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Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Nigger, you don't think we'll let you vote, do you?-Jeb Bush


Nigger, don't even THINK of voting in Florida. Proper white people voting above


Norwood, in Kos's diaries, noted the vote supressions going on in Florida these days, as Jeb tries to keep them darkies from voting.

Vote fraud case raises bullying cries
By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
Published September 28, 2004

ORLANDO - Local politicians call him the absentee ballot king.

Before each election, Ezzie Thomas appears at the homes of hundreds of black voters and picks up their absentee ballots.

In a predominately black Orlando neighborhood, it seems everyone knows the 73-year-old Thomas. He was the local television repair man for years, extending credit to black residents when no one else would.

But now Thomas' tactics in the spring Orlando mayoral election are at the center of a controversy that once again has put Florida elections in the national spotlight. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated Thomas, closed its case, then reopened it. Now the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights are investigating the FDLE investigation.

Critics of Thomas' methods argue they are illegal and give Democrats an edge. Critics of the FDLE investigation say all candidates go after absentee ballots like Thomas does and call the probe an attempt to scare black residents into not voting in November, which would help Republicans.

"If there was evidence of widespread absentee ballot fraud, I don't think anyone would question their right to investigate," said Democratic lawyer Joseph Egan, who wonders why the FDLE would focus so hard on someone like Thomas.

..............

No one claimed Thomas gave them money. No one saw Thomas change a vote.

Democrats say minority voters accept the practice, which makes it easier to vote. Critics say it invites fraud. It also violates a seldom-enforced law against getting paid to request, collect or physically possess absentee ballots.

Republicans, who have mastered absentee ballot campaigns, say they don't collect voters' ballots by hand.

"I've never heard of that," said consultant Mark Proctor. "That's pretty aggressive."
* * *

A week after the election, Brian Mulvaney called Orlando police. "What was happening was illegal," he said.

Months passed. Then he read in the Orlando Sentinel that Dyer had been cleared.

In a letter, FDLE regional director Joyce Dawley said the agency found no basis to charges that Dyer campaign staffers had illegally collected absentee ballots.

Dawley said later that someone - she can't recall who - asked her to issue the letter.

Mulvaney called FDLE and asked how agents could clear Dyer when they had not interviewed him.

Dawley apologized and said she only meant to clear Dyer, not close the entire case.

After she met with Mulvaney, the investigation began again. A week later, FDLE agents talked about big-time charges. Agent Wayne Ivey told the Sentinel the investigation could lead to racketeering charges.
* * *

In early June, FDLE agents began knocking on voters' doors in Lake Mann Homes, a public housing complex on Orlando's west side.

...........

In late June, Thomas called a news conference to decry the FDLE's tactics. Democratic activists claimed scores of voters were too scared to vote absentee.

"There are African-Americans who believe that if you vote absentee, you will have cops showing up at your door," said Egan, the Democratic lawyer.

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert compared the FDLE to sheriffs who suppressed the black vote in the segregated South.

.........
One thing is certain. Egan said Thomas "is scared to death."

Thomas' criminal defense lawyer has begun cooperating with prosecutors and now defends the FDLE's conduct. "They were just doing their job," attorney Dean Mosley said.

Prosecutors questioned Thomas under a subpoena that gave him immunity from prosecution, Mosley said.

"I can't believe they want to prosecute a 73-year-old man who thought he was doing a public service," Mosley said. "I think their target is some elected officials."

Meanwhile, Thomas spends his days behind the screen door of his ranch house. For November's general election, he doesn't plan to collect a single absentee ballot.


Oh, but this gets better. Nigger vote suppression seems to be all the rage in Florida these days.

Politics and sleaze envelop Orlando
As the presidential campaign approaches its showdown, the Republicans in the state run by George Bush's brother are up to their tricks again. Andrew Gumbel reports from the heart of Florida

27 September 2004

In Orlando, the Florida home of Disneyworld and a vital political battleground, the campaign for the November presidential election is getting sly, nasty and very, very personal. Normally, at this stage of the proceedings, Ezzie Thomas, a well-known character on the predominantly African-American west side of town, would be out chatting to the people, registering them to vote before the 4 October deadline and helping them with absentee ballots if they do not think they will have time to make it to the polls on election day. But the 73-year-old Mr Thomas, an affable ladies' man, is staying out of public view for fear of exacerbating what is already a highly controversial - and highly political - criminal investigation of his election-related activities.

A similarly low profile is being taken by Steve Clelland, the head of the local firefighters' union. Last week, he did not even dare attend a local appearance by John Kerry, the candidate he is supporting for President, in case it added to the legal troubles facing his own organisation. The firefighters are also subject to a criminal investigation, the chief allegation - for which no evidence has been produced - being that they colluded with City Hall to set up an illegal slush fund for political campaigning.

What makes the troubles facing the two men particularly sinister is that they are declared Kerry supporters, with the power to bring in hundreds if not thousands of votes for the Democratic Party. The investigations are being conducted by the state police, known as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), which reports directly to Governor Jeb Bush, brother of President George Bush.

The Republicans, naturally, deny the investigations are politically motivated. But even they acknowledge that a chill has spread through Orlando's overwhelmingly Democratic black voting community after a flurry of unannounced visits by armed state police to at least 52 homes whose mostly elderly residents had signed up for an absentee ballot with Mr Thomas's help.

............

So this is the key swing city in the key swing region of the key swing state that will determine whether or not George Bush wins another four years in the White House. Little wonder passions are getting heated. Given the unholy electoral mess Florida produced in 2000, and given the state's sordid history of vote fraud and systematic disenfranchisement, especially of black voters, both parties find themselves voicing the suspicion that the other side will try to steal Florida if only they can figure out how. "It's a blood sport," said Joe Egan, a prominent Orlando lawyer who represents both Mr Thomas and the firefighters.

.......................
The greatest suspicion fell on Ezzie Thomas, because he had personally witnessed applications for 270 absentee ballots, a figure big enough to force a run-off election if it could be shown the votes were fraudulent. The city attorney's office cross-checked the signatures on the absentee ballots with the original application forms and concluded they were valid. Intriguingly, the FDLE did the same thing and stated, in a letter written to the state attorney in Orlando in May, that there was "no basis to support the allegations" and that the case should be considered closed.

"They've been trying to explain away that letter ever since," said one senior city employee who did not wish to be identified. Something caused the FDLE to change its mind, because in early June uniformed officers began knocking on doors and asking threatening questions of dozens of black voters who had been in contact with Mr Thomas. Several said the FDLE officers took off their jackets and exposed their firearms while questioning them. In at least one case, the officer crossed his legs and tapped a 9mm pistol sitting in an ankle holster while he asked detailed questions about the interviewee's reasons for voting absentee. (Absentee voting is a choice under Florida law, so one can wonder about the line of questioning.)

"I felt threatened, embarrassed and like I was being accused of being a criminal," one interviewee, Willie Thomas, wrote in a statement. Many others told Joe Egan later that they no longer wanted to vote absentee because they felt it was somehow illegal.

...........

Like the black absentee voters, Mr Clelland also noticed the officer tapping the 9mm pistol in his ankle holster as he let loose his barrage of questions. "You would think these investigators were going after John Gotti [the late Mafia don]," he said bitterly. "Their actions have gutted this organisation locally." After the grand jury ruled that the union leave bank was legal, Mayor Dyer asked Florida's attorney general for a ruling to get the FDLE off their backs. But Mayor Dyer's bad luck was that he had run for the office of attorney general in 2002, and his successful Republican opponent, Charlie Crist, was not about to cut him any slack. Mr Crist has refused to offer an opinion either way.

Such is the incestuous nature of politics in Orlando, and in Florida generally, all of it poisoned further by the governor being the President's brother. Mayor Hood was regarded as a consensus-building moderate for much of her time in Orlando, but became more ideological on such issues as gay rights and abortion as she cast around for a new job. Most Democrats believe that, as Secretary of State and as a direct appointee of the governor, her mandate is not to guarantee a free and fair electoral process so much as to do everything in her power to clinch a Bush victory, much as her notorious predecessor, Katherine Harris, did in 2000.

Orlando is also in a state of major flux. For years, the big citrus farmers, as well as the land developers who came in Disneyworld's wake, made it a reliable Republican stronghold. Then an influx of low-wage service workers, including a growing tide of immigrants from Puerto Rico, changed its complexion.

The Republicans were shocked when Al Gore beat George Bush in Orange County in the presidential race in 2000, and vowed not to be taken by surprise again. The party identified the Puerto Ricans - many from middle-class backgrounds back home - as the key constituency and set to work to win over as many as possible.
........................

With workers from both parties rushing to register as many voters as possible while there is still time, the race remains nerve-rackingly close, close enough that the votes controlled by Ezzie Thomas and the firefighters might just make the crucial difference.

While everyone is worried about Diebold, the traditional methods of nigger vote suppression are alive and well. The difference being that people are watching this time.

ACT needs to step in and work with these communities to collect absentee ballots from these poor, and obviously scared people and do a public service campaign.

posted by Steve @ 11:06:00 AM

11:06:00 AM

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