06 October 2008

Suppressing the Vote: Dirty Tricks Targeting Voters

In an article at ABC News, Larry Sabato (University of Virignia, Center for Politics) lists some of the most common tricks used to prevent people from voting for a particular candidate--or from voting at all:

- "Push-poll" phone calls using the guise of a survey to push negative information about a candidate.

- Leaflets or emails listing the wrong date or a "rain date" for the election.

- Automated voicemail messages telling voters that the location of their polling place has changed.

- Repeated late night automated "robo-calls" with a message from a candidate.

Other tricks include phone calls, leaflets, or flyers that aim to confuse voters about where they can (or should) cast their ballots, or intimidate voters by threatening that police will be lurking about polling places just waiting to nab you for any unpaid parking tickets.

And here's a nice touch: some taped calls might feature "the voice of an 'angry black man'" or "actors with thick Hispanic accents." Clearly designed to play on voters' "latent rejudices," people who orchestrate such dirty tricks aim "to make the voters 'throw up their hands' and stay away from the polls."

There you go.

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