Voter Suppression Is a Crime | #College. | #Students

Deliberate efforts to suppress the vote in battleground states were not taken seriously enough in 2016. Only after the damage was done did law enforcement officials begin to pay proper attention to the outright lies and crude calculations that were employed in attempts to derail democracy in Detroit and other urban centers.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is not about to let it happen again in 2020.

Nessel’s throwing the book at those who attempt to undermine voting rights in the run-up to this year’s presidential election. Her aggressive approach should serve as a model for attorneys general and local prosecutors nationwide.

Last week, Nessel charged a pair of prominent political operatives—Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl—for allegedly attempting to discourage voters from participating in the November election by creating and funding a voter-suppression scheme targeted at Detroit and other areas with substantial African American populations.

As part of the scheme, recorded robocalls amplified President Trump’s lies about voting by mail, with a warning to voters and potential voters about being “finessed into giving your private information to the man” and urging them to “beware of vote by mail.”

“The caller, who claims to be associated with an organization founded by Burkman and Wohl, falsely tells people that mail-in voting, in particular, will allow personal information to become part of a special database used by police to track down old warrants and by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts,” said Nessel’s office. “The caller also deceptively claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will use the information to track people for mandatory vaccines. However, none of that is true.”

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson labeled the robocall scheme “an unconscionable, indefensible, blatant attempt to lie to citizens about their right to vote,” and declared when it was revealed in August that “The call preys on voters’ fear and mistrust of the criminal justice system—at a moment of historic reckoning and confrontation of systemic racism and the generational trauma that results—and twists it into a fabricated threat in order to discourage people from voting. The Attorney General and I will use every tool at our disposal to dispel this false rhetoric and seek justice on behalf of every voter who was targeted and harmed by this vicious attempt at voter suppression.”

That’s an appropriate response, considering the record from 2016. Along with Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Michigan was one of the trio of states where extremely narrow wins by Donald Trump allowed the Republican to claim an Electoral College majority despite losing the national popular vote by 2.9 million ballots. Since 2016, there have been multiple reports linking voter suppression efforts by foreign and domestic operatives to turnout declines in Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and other urban centers. As New Jersey Senator Cory Booker said during last year’s Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, “We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters. We need to say that.”


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