Monday, November 3, 2008

Voter suppression for dummies

Just when you think you've seen it all, seen every cage and creature in the zoo of this presidential campaign, you look up and you're surprised — or, more accurately, sadly astonished at how fiendishly stupid some people can be.

Some halfwits in Virginia came up with the idea last week to create a fake State Board of Elections flier advising Republicans to vote on Nov. 4 — the real Election Day — and Democrats on Nov. 5.

The Virginian-Pilot reported on Oct. 28: "The somewhat official-looking flier - it features the state board logo and the state seal - is dated Oct. 24 and indicates that 'an emergency session of the General Assembly has adopted the follwing (sic) emergency regulations to ease the load on local electorial (sic) precincts and ensure a fair electorial process.' "

The flier is being circulated in several Hampton Roads localities, state elections officials told the Virginian-Pilot. "We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but felt this was the only way to ensure fairness to the complete electorial process," it reads in part.

No emergency action has been taken by the Assembly, the V-P reported. It is not in session and has absolutely no authority to change the date of a federal election.

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It might be easy to dismiss this for what it seems to be: a corrosive practical joke that makes devious use of informational technology, the popular fascination with satire, and the power of officialdom. "I don't smell a rat," you might say, "I smell an idiot!"

Except that somewhere in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, some poor dupe of a soul will see this flier, consider its official looking seal and logos and legalistic language ... and believe it. And show up at the polls the day after the biggest election of our time. And that would be a damn dirty shame.

If you live in Virginia and you're reading this, you're on the Internet. If you're on the Internet, you know better: If you didn't before, you do now: Election Day, for everybody, is Nov. 4. For all the things that divide us as a nation, that's the one damn thing we do together. Tomorrow.

If there's someone you know who's less media savvy, make sure they know. No matter what they've heard, no matter what they've read, it all goes down tomorrow. Do what you can to make sure the only disenfranchised people in Virginia who are disappointed on Nov. 5 are the mentally disenfranchised jokesters who tried to pull this off.
Image credit: Flier: Virginian-Pilot. Joker: GNU Lesser General Public License (author David Bellot, Berkeley, Calif.)

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