Intimidation! Fraud! And So the Voting Allegations Begin

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Every Election Day brings allegations of voter intimidation and voter fraud from both sides. The prevailing example in 2008 were accusations that two members of the New Black Panther Party stood outside a polling place in Philadelphia, wearing military gear and intimidating voters with a nightstick. The Department of Justice's lawsuit against them became a highly charged racial and political issue at the beginning of Barack Obama's presidency. 

This year, numerous allegations have already emerged. In South Carolina, the state Democratic Party claims that Tea Party activists have been intimidating student voters from a historically black college. Allegations that Tea Partiers have been harassing black voters have also been made in Sumter, South Carolina. These incidents are currently being investigated. They follow claims from last week that white Republican activists in Texas visited the homes of elderly African American voters to harass them about their mail-in ballots.

On the other side, Republican activists are launching offensives targeting voter fraud. A conservative group in Minnesota is deploying thousands of volunteer poll-watchers and encouraging them to wear stickers that read, "Please ID Me." A judge ruled earlier this week that the activists could not wear these stickers to the polls because they suggested that voters need ID to cast their ballots (they don't, at least not in Minnesota). The conservative group, apparently, is encouraging its members to wear the stickers anyway. It is also offering a $500 reward for tips that lead to convictions of voter fraud.

In a flashback to 2008, Fox News is reporting that a member of the New Black Panther Party has been spotted standing outside the same Philadelphia polling place where the alleged intimidation occurred two years ago. Dressed all in black and not carrying a stick, the man appeared to be working at the poll as a volunteer. No charges of intimidation have been reported.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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