Today, the small election law community is going crazy over the Republican Senate runoff in Mississippi. Unlike the rest of the political world that is concerned with the result, the liberal election law community is concerned with intimidation in the Republican primary.
Don’t get me wrong, Republicans are very concerned with intimidation. That is why Republicans and conservatives highlight it when it happens, such as when pair of New Black Panther Party members in para military uniforms wave a Billy Club in front of a polling place. The Democrat position on the surface is the same, but in reality is hypocritical in the extreme. While even at least one career Democrat prosecutor at the Department of Justice agreed that the New Black Panther Party members’ actions were an open and shut case of intimidation worthy of prosecution, Democrat party officials in Pennsylvania felt the opposite. They rewarded one of the pair with a Democrat party position.
This is relevant for Mississippi because of the differing views on intimidation. All the conservative and Republican poll watcher/challenger training that I have attended has conveyed the same message: You are either there just to observe, OR you bring your concerns to the election officials. There is NEVER a circumstance where you confront a voter in the polling place.
This is not to say that I don’t understand what the left is thinking when they worry about intimidation of voters, it is what they attempt to do. If the situation where reversed, at least some Democrat Party officials would be there intimidating Republicans if history is any guide. Just this week it came out that a Democrat in Washington State was trying to intimidate Republican voters in Florida in 2012 with official sounding letters.
To be clear, I am not talking about isolated examples such as the New Black Panthers or a single person in Washington but the efforts of the Democrat party in places like Virginia, arguably the most political and the second most targeted state in the 2012 election. While all the Republicans\Conservatives I know emphasize in their training that you do not speak directly with a voter, the Democrats in Virginia in 2012 where suing for the right to confront voters inside the polling place!
Of course Democrats don’t call their actions confronting or intimidating voters but rather “assisting” voters in polling places. However, the court in Virginia in 2012 rejected the Democrats’ request because it felt, correctly, that inside a polling place is no place for partisan activists to be confronting voters.
So today, MSNBC will likely trot out someone who committed vote fraud himself, Al Sharpton, to discuss how Republicans/conservatives are allegedly intimidating voters in a Republican Primary. Hey, it is a good thing to do if you're a liberal activist. Not only has Sharpton been rewarded with a primetime TV slot for his pro-intimidation/fraud efforts, but so are liberal activists. For example, the Brennan Center’s Myrna Perez was rewarded for her career of crying wolf and wildly exaggerating on non-existent intimidation and list purging claims with a nomination to be one of two Democrat Commissioners on the Federal commission overseeing aspects of voting, the Election Assistance Commission.
While Democrats interested in election law outside of Mississippi are going to focus on ginning up non-existent stories of intimidation by poll watchers who are in reality observing the elections, Republicans interested in election law are going to be hoping for an honest election.