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Voter Suppression Documented, NH is Not Immune

October 21, 2008

Concord, NH – Threatening to challenge voters at the polls because their homes have been foreclosed on, automated telephone calls telling people their polling place has changed, and misinformation about who is eligible to vote -- these are examples of voter suppression tactics going on this election. Although New Hampshire hasn't been the hot seat of controversy, it's happening here, too, an expert says.

Lorraine Minnite is a professor of political science at Barnard College who has testified before Congress about voter suppression and intimidation this year. She says the good news is that the illegal and unethical tactics are very much in the public's view.

"This story about vote suppression, which is actually quite old in the United States, is not well known. We're seeing it in kind of vivid Technicolor in this election."

Minnite says there are ugly racial undertones to voter suppression tactics this year.

"Race plays such an important role. African-Americans are being targeted, and people of color are being targeted today because they're a core constituency of the Democratic Party."

While Republicans stand accused most often, and have admitted to wrongdoing in Michigan, she says the Democrats also have a long history of intimidating voters, dating back to the end of the Civil War. Solid laws to prevent intimidation need to be on the books, she says, to protect against tactics from any political party.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - NH