October 15, 2004

Earlier this week former employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations.

The accusations are backed by physical evidence and appear credible. Officials have begun a criminal investigation into reports of similar actions by Sproul in Oregon.

Republicans claim, of course, that they did nothing wrong - and that besides, Democrats do it, too. But there haven't been any comparably credible accusations against Democratic voter-registration organizations. And there is a pattern of Republican efforts to disenfranchise Democrats, by any means possible.

Some of these, like the actions reported in Nevada, involve dirty tricks. For example, in 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired an Idaho company to paralyze Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts by jamming the party's phone banks.

But many efforts involve the abuse of power. For example, Ohio's secretary of state, a Republican, tried to use an archaic rule about paper quality to invalidate thousands of new, heavily Democratic registrations.

That attempt failed. But in Wisconsin, a Republican county executive insists that this year, when everyone expects a record turnout, Milwaukee will receive fewer ballots than it got in 2000 or 2002 - a recipe for chaos at polling places serving urban, mainly Democratic voters.

And Florida is the site of naked efforts to suppress Democratic votes, and the votes of blacks in particular. Read on...

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