12 November 2006

The Republican Party has no respect for democracy or the rights of those who disagree with them

Republicans made dishonest, even threatening phone calls to intimidate and confuse likely Democratic voters.
Within hours of the polls opening in Virginia - battleground of one of the tightest Senate races in the mid-term elections - both the state attorney's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had opened inquiries. But reports of dirty campaigning, most if not quite all of it carried out on behalf of the Republican Party, cascaded across the country so fast that it was almost impossible for law enforcement, or anyone else, to keep up.

In several states, Democrats - especially African Americans - complained that they had been called and told the location of their precinct had changed, when it hadn't. In 20 of the closest House districts around the country, registered Democrats and independents found themselves bombarded with so-called "robo-calls" - computer-generated messages that sound at first like get-out-the-vote initiatives on behalf of Democratic candidates but grow ever more negative as they go on until it finally becomes clear they are endorsed by the Republican Party.

Voters complained not only that the messages were deceptive, but that they arrived with deadening regularity, sometimes very late at night, in what appeared to be a concerted effort by Republicans to anger their recipients and turn them off the idea of voting at all. Some of the underhand tactics were even perpetuated by the media. The conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham spent some of her morning show openly mocking a voter protection hotline set up the Democrats and repeatedly aired the phone number - leading to a spike in crank calls that slowed down voters with bona fide complaints to air.


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