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THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Minority Voters Still Facing Intimidation, Report Finds

August 26, 2004|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Voter intimidation, particularly of minorities, continues to be a problem in some states, according to a report released Wednesday.

"Minority voters bear the brunt of every form of disenfranchisement, including pernicious efforts to keep them away from the polls," said Julian Bond, board chairman of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

The report, by the NAACP and People for the American Way Foundation, reveals that the types of voter intimidation found in the past -- discriminatory literacy tests, poll taxes and physical violence -- have been supplanted by other methods, including:

* A plan in Kentucky to place "vote challengers" in African American precincts during the upcoming elections;

* The use of armed, plainclothes officers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to question elderly black voters in Orlando as part of a state investigation of voting irregularities in the city's 2003 mayoral race.

* The barring of Native Americans from voting in South Dakota's June primary after they were challenged to provide photo identification, which is not required by state or federal law.

In a separate development, the AFL-CIO said it would watch for any attempt to reprise voting rights violations that marred the 2000 election.

Voting irregularities in Florida threw the presidential contest four years ago into a muddle that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We're particularly concerned about treatment of African Americans, Latino, Asian American and Native American voters, who were disproportionately disenfranchised in the 2000 federal elections," AFL-CIO spokeswoman Cecelie Counts said.

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