The right-wing voter suppression efforts are just disgusting. Really bad.
From the article:
Right-wing activists bent on exposing the alleged epidemic of in-person voter fraud suffered a major misfire over the weekend when anonymous pollwatchers set off alarms over groups of Somalis getting rides to a central Ohio early voting center.
Many members of the large Somali community in and around Columbus are U.S. citizens and therefore have the constitutional right to vote. But that didn’t stop the conservative Human Events website from warning of “troubling and questionable activities” — or the Drudge Report getting its readers exercised about “Vanloads of Somalians driven to the polls in Ohio.”
The Human Events story quoted two anonymous pollwatchers complaining of “Somalis who cannot speak English” arriving in groups, being given a slate card by Democratic party workers outside the polling place, then coming in and being instructed by Somali interpreters on how to vote. The article also raised the question of “whether a non-English speaking person is an American citizen.”
One regular contributor to the right-wing American Thinker website likened the voters to “Somali pirates” being used by Ohio Democrats to “hijack the election.”
Somali leaders in central Ohio said the charges in the article were upsetting as well as unfounded.
“They shouldn’t single out the Somalis,” said Hassan Omar, head of the Somali Community Association in Ohio. “That’s the American dream; exercising the freedom of voting.”
Omar said that only those Somalis who are citizens register to vote. “There’s no cheating. This is scare tactics, to be honest with you,” he said.
Ben Piscitelli, a spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections, mocked the concerns expressed in the Human Events story. “‘Gee, all these Somalis, who knows if they’re U.S. citizens? Who knows what Somali pollworkers are saying to them? Gee, we saw Democrats outside that were giving them slate cards.’
“The answer to all of that is: So what?” Piscitelli said.
Somali voters have been a “very visible presence” at the early voting center, which happens to be smack dab in a heavily Somali part of town where many of the older women still wear traditional dress. “They stand out,” Piscitelli said. “But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. As far as we’re concerned, we think everything’s okay.”
People who register to vote have to affirm their citizenship under penalty of perjury, and “we haven’t had any instances in my memory or in recent years of somebody trying to vote who wasn’t a citizen,” Piscitelli said. “There’s no more reason to suspect someone with a Somali name than there is to suspect someone with a name like Piscitelli.”
Members of either party are allowed to campaign and give voters slate cards as long as it’s more than 100 feet from the polling place, he noted, and voters are allowed to bring those slate cards into the voting booth.
The article claimed there were no Republican Somali speakers at the polling place. Piscitelli said the very first Somali speaker they hired was, in fact, a Republican.
And those pollworkers often help voters understand how the touchscreen machines work, he said. “Yes, they’re speaking Somali, and we don’t know what they’re saying to voters, but then again we don’t eavesdrop on our English-speaking pollworkers either.”
You can read the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/voter-fraud-false-sighting-ohio_n_2050768.html