This is a huge issue across the US for the 2008 election. By one man’s estimation, the outcome of the 2008 presidential election has been a foregone conclusion for a number of years. Read “Armed Madhouse” by Greg Palast if you want more.
FIGHTING VOTER SUPPRESSION IN TEXAS…
Long notorious for its checkered history of voter suppression, Waller County, Texas’s degree of racial division approaches the level of myth.
In Waller County, for example, a person calling a funeral parlor is asked: what color is the body? There are black and white funeral homes, says Christina Sanders, who directs the Black Youth Vote! effort in Texas, and the two don’t ever mix.
With the Texas primary approaching, tensions flared again this month over one of the county’s sorest racial issues–the color of the vote.
For decades, Waller County has repressed the vote of the local historically black college, Prairie View A&M. In 1979, the Supreme Court stepped in to intercede, upholding A&M students’ right to vote where they declare residency. Yet since then, the county has gone so far as to indict A&M students that vote, and in the 2004 case of one attorney general, even threaten such students with jail and $10,000 in fines.
But this election cycle, when the county eliminated the temporary early voting location adjacent to A&M, students rebelled. The county’s only other early voting site was over 7 miles away from campus in the town of Hempstead–with no bus route connecting the two. And at a time when youth turnout is at record highs, says Sanders, A&M students were outraged. “This being a historically black university, and a presidential election when we’re hearing things that we can relate to–I just [couldn’t] believe it,” Sanders said.
On Jan. 25, the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights sent a letter to the Department of Justice calling the move “motivated, at least in part, by a discriminatory purpose.”
Students won their victory this week when, under pressure from the Department of Justice, election commissioners convened an emergency meeting to re-establish A&M’s early polling site.
According to county elections supervisor Debbie Hollan, the county’s original move to eliminate A&M’s early voting site was prompted by a lack of available voting machines, as both parties had wanted all those available to be reserved for voters on primary day. (Several other early voting sites had been closed as well.) But federal pressure–and threat of a DOJ lawsuit–says Hollan, changed their calculations.