The Evidence to Date
On November 11, 2000, about a year and a half ago, the national NAACP conducted a hearing about
discriminatory practices surrounding Election Day in Florida. Over 6,000 people
had called their office with reports. The names of properly registered citizens
disappeared from precinct rolls. Registration forms were mysteriously
"never processed." African-American voters were singled out for
"criminal background checks." 12,000 voters were cut from voting rolls by
being mistakenly identified as felons, and a totally disproportionate number
of these voters were African-American. Black voters who requested absentee
ballots and never received them weren't permitted to vote when they went to
the precinct in person on election day.African-American, Haitian-American,
and Puerto Rican-American voters were denied assistance at the polls,
assistance they were legally entitled to. African-American voters weren't
told that their polling place was closed and weren't directed to the new
polling place. And so on, and on. Similar reports came from many other states.
o maybe it shouldn't have surprised me-- although it did-- when I began to
hear and see information coming out of my home state, Tennessee. I guess we
all want to think it can't happen where we live.
The Tennessee Voter Empowerment Team met on November 17th to
discuss the information they'd been receiving.
According to evidence gathered by me, NAACP branches statewide,
the Tennessee Voter Empowerment Project, Nashville Pride,and
the Tennessee Tribune, vote fraud may have happened here.
Here are the reports that have been received, keeping in mind
that you must insert the word "reportedly" in front of each one:
In Wilson county just outside of Nashville, African-Americans were told
to remove NAACP signs from their cars, or leave. Nashville students from
Tennessee State University, a historically black college, also state that they
weren't permitted to vote even though they were registered.
In Chattanooga, Brown, and Maury Counties, African-Americans
found out only on election day that the designated voting sites where they'd
always gone to vote suddenly were closed.
In Memphis, many voters who registered through the DMV program
weren't allowed to vote. In Nashville, many of these voters found out only on
election day that they weren't registered even though they had filled out all the
proper forms. They were then sent to stand in a 5 hour line with 3 voting
booths and no election officials present for a minimum of one hour (this is illegal!).
These voters are disproportionately African-American, Hispanic, and/or poor.
African-American voters were sent to the Election Commission for
voting-related errors that weren't the voters' fault. They were then told, after
several hours of waiting in line, that the errors disqualified them from voting.
The DMV problem (people believing they were properly registered to vote
with all forms filled out, only to find on election day that they weren't)
was statewide,not limited to Nashville and Memphis. Nobody
has yet been able to find out why this happened. The DMV blames
voters. However, there is no regulation of any kind when registration forms
are sent from the DMV to counties-- no laws, no rules, nobody watching,
nothing. Not only that, but in Illinois and Florida, where exactly the same
thing happened but there's been a lot more investigation, it's been determined
that "voter error" had nothing to do with it.
In many areas, such as Columbia and Brownsville, the poll opening times were
changed from 7:00 a.m. to 8 or 9 a.m. No notification was sent to voters. This
is completely illegal. I found out that this was far more widespread than I'd
previously believed and involved many areas in West Tennessee.
According to the Motor Voter Bill, names cannot be purged from voting
rolls for any reason besides death of the voter. But they were.
Many African-American neighborhoods in Memphis had exactly the same problem as
Hadley Park and Antioch Middle School.
People who'd served jail time in Nashville but had the legal right to vote
fought an attempt to illegally purge their names on election day.
In Bolivar City, people who'd served their time in jail were actually
illegally kept from voting, the first year this had ever happened. Officials
with the local Black Chamber of Commerce are filing a complaint with the EEOC.
Apparently, this problem also happened in Shelby County (Memphis.)
In Maury County, the polling place was changed without properly notifying voters.
According to the Maury County NAACP, this has happened every election since 1992.
A Maury County NAACP official was told that he would not be allowed to be a poll
volunteer. The members of his community circulated a petition in his favor, and
he was told he would be allowed. On election day, election commission officials
at the polling place ordered him out of the building. They then looked outside a
few minutes later and said, "You're not far enough away," forcing him into the street.
U.S Department of Justice Attorney Bruce Gear is currently investigating these
reports, and many more. I've also received some new information from him and
will be receiving more. According to Mr. Gear, he has found that about seven
hundred people in Davidson County alone were disenfranchised by the DMV
disaster only. This does not include any other type of disenfranchisment
or any other reports. Well, guess what. The DOJ FINALLY decided to investigate.Then,
they decided to file a lawsuit against areas in only three states: Florida,
Missouri, and Tennessee.
- In Nashville:
- Some African-American voters were told they
couldn't vote without voter registration cards (not true!)
- Some African-Americans were treated with incredible rudeness by
election volunteers, to the point where they turned around and went home.
In Murfreesboro, white voters were placed ahead of African-American voters
in line, and an election official reportedly said, "You know what it means to sit at
the back of the bus."
- Several polling places in African-American neighborhoods had a
fraction of the voting booths that white neighborhoods had. The most
egregious example personally known to me is Antioch Middle School.
Witnesses have stated that the latter had, in early afternoon on November 7,
a line 1/2 mile long. At 7:00, the official closing time, many people in line gave
up and left. It is suspected but not yet known that they were not told they had a
right to vote if they were in line by 7:00 p.m. I am investigating reports that other
polling places in African-American neighborhoods may have illegally closed,
or attempted to close, before voters in line by 7:00 p.m. had a chance to vote.
- Pages of voter registration information inexplicably disappeared from the
book at Graymar voting precinct, in a virtually 100% African-American
neighborhood. At least one poll book itself went mysteriously missing and
was later found, with no way of knowing who may have handled it in the meantime.
We don't know how many other reports have never emerged. We don't yet know
how many people may have been affected by all this-- although according to
the latest information, the number is likely to be in the tens of thousands.
We don't know who may ultimately be found at fault. We don't even know how
the presidential vote for this state may have swung if these alleged incidents
had not taken place. We may never know. But we must learn. In our search
for knowledge, we make history.
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