The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, October 18, 2004  

Suppressing the Minority Vote

There's monkey chimp business afoot in Philadelphia.

In today's Philadelphia Daily News ("GOP Fails in Effort to Move Polls," by Chris Brennan):

Republican operatives working to re-elect President Bush submitted last-minute requests in Philadelphia on Friday to relocate 63 polling places.

Bush's Pennsylvania campaign staff filed the requests, using the names of two Republicans running for the U.S. Congress and seven Republican ward leaders.

Of the 63 requests for changes, 53 are in political divisions where the population of white voters is less than 10 percent.

The racism at work here isn't even veiled, let alone hidden. Brennan reports:

Race played a role in at least five of the requests, according to Matt Robb, the Republican leader of the 48th ward in South Philadelphia. Robb said he allowed his name to be used because those polling places are in neighborhoods he doesn't wish to visit.

"It's predominantly, 100 percent black," said Robb, who is white. "I'm just not going in there to get a knife in my back."


Listervelt Ritter, the Republican leader for the 16th ward in North Philadelphia, said he participated in the effort on four requests because he is tired of polling places controlled by Democrats and the fraud that he claims results. Ritter, an African-American, denied any attempt to suppress minority votes.

"The black neighborhoods are the ones that do the funny stuff," Ritter said. "What are you supposed to do?"

As my friend, Pulitzer Prize-winning blogger Will Bunch of Campaign Extra (the Pulitzer came before the blogging, but the blogging is still good), notes:

Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral votes are the second-biggest "battleground" prize after Florida. John Kerry can't win here without a huge turnout in Philadelphia, especially in black neighborhoods that vote 90 percent Democratic. As a result, it's the first place you'd expect a GOP voter suppression effort.

Remind me again, what century is this?

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