Term of the day: Vote Caging or how politicians deny citizens the right to vote

I’ll bet you’ve never heard of this term before, but you’ve always suspected there are systemic ways in which both parties deny voters of the other party the right to vote (obviously depending on who controls the voting locale). Allegations of disenfranchisement were rampant during the 2000 and 2004 elections (as well as 2002 and 2006 though less reported). Now PROOF that the GOP is systemically caging voters:

Kris Kobach, the chairman of the Kansas GOP sent out an email boasting that “To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!”

In case you were wondering voter caging is illegal – but what exactly does it mean??

From Slate.com:

“Vote caging is an illegal trick to suppress minority voters (who tend to vote Democrat) by getting them knocked off the voter rolls if they fail to answer registered mail sent to homes they aren’t living at (because they are, say, at college or at war). The Republican National Committee reportedly stopped the practice following a consent decree in a 1986 case. Google the term and you’ll quickly arrive at the Wizard of Oz of caging, Greg Palast, investigative reporter and author of the wickedly funny Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans—Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild. Palast started reporting allegations of Republican vote caging for the BBC’s Newsnight in 2004. He’s been almost alone on the story since then. Palast contends, both in Armed Madhouse and widely through the liberal blogosphere, that vote caging, an illegal voter-suppression scheme, happened in Florida in 2004 this way:

The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked “Do not forward” to voters’ homes. Letters returned (“caged”) were used as evidence to block these voters’ right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and—you got to love this—American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters.

Why weren’t these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation—and the soldiers were overseas.

Palast supplies evidence linking Tim Griffin, then-research director for the RNC, to this caging plot; specifically, a series of confidential e-mails to Republican Party muckety-mucks with the suggestive heading “RE: caging.” The e-mails were accidentally sent to a George Bush parody site. They also contained suggestively named spreadsheets, headed “caging” as well. The names on the lists are what Palast’s researchers deemed to be homeless men and soldiers deployed in Iraq. Here are the e-mails.

As Palast points out—and Griffin himself has observed—the American media barely touched this story, and Griffin has yet to explain the e-mails or the lists. He did tell The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer last March that “caging is not a derogatory term. … [I]t’s a direct-mail term. It derives from caging categories of mail in steel shelves and files.” Still, that hardly explains why he was allegedly caging only transient African-American voters in those shelves or files, which would likely violate the Voting Rights Act.”

Let’s be honest for a minute. This isn’t an example of dirty Republican politics – this is just plain dirty politics; the GOP just happened to get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, ironically bragging about the act. Democrats most likely perpetrate similar schemes in states they control, but this particular tactic seems to affect more Democrat voters than Republican voters.

Wake up America. The two party system doesn’t represent your interests. The controlling party systemically finds ways to make your vote count less through more well known procedures such as gerrymandering, to the less known such as “caging”

Reason #234509 to vote for Ron Paul.

If you’re interested, NOW, perhaps one of the last respectable video journalism programs left (produced by PBS) – has a program describing in detail the effects and strategy of voter caging.

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