17 Sep 2004 Project 21 Press Release: Black Conservatives Decry Advance Claims of Voter Suppression; Conspiratorial Claims are Not Constructive to Full Voter Participation, Group Says
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a briefing September 17 on the potential for voter disfranchisement in the 2004 general election.
Project 21 members charge liberal groups are raising the specter of voter suppression in friendly venues such as the Commission to taint the election before it happens. This in itself may keep some voters away from the polls. Furthermore, it creates a climate where these critics can more easily challenge the integrity of the election if they do not approve of the results, even if such charges are groundless.
“It’s a smear-and-fear campaign,” says Project 21 member Kevin Martin. “The same forces we saw in 2000 – those speaking of a concerted effort to disfranchise minorities – are once again making ridiculous allegations to make up for their lack of substance. They speak of voter suppression and intimidation, but they say nothing about the lax voter registration and identification rules that could lead to voter fraud.”
In August, the NAACP and People for the American Way released a report alleging an increase in efforts to intimidate and keep minority voters from the polls. Although both groups are non-profit, and therefore barred by IRS rules from engaging in partisan politics, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond pointedly said these tactics “have increasingly become the province of the Republican Party.” Republican Party chairman Ed Gillespie offered to help create bipartisan “teams” to ensure fairness at the polls, but his suggestion was rebuffed by Democratic chairman Terry McAuliffe.
The U.S. Civil Rights Commission, which is scheduled to hold the Friday briefing, issued a highly-critical and highly-criticized report on the 2000 voting in Florida. Project 21 member Peter Kirsanow, who now serves on the Commission, wrote about on the report in a 2003 essay posted on National Review Online: “The myth of a nefarious plot to thwart black voters from casting ballots is wholly unsupported by the evidence. Inconvenience, bureaucratic errors and inefficiencies were indeed pervasive. But these problems don’t rise to the level of invidious discrimination… The consequences of generating suspicion of the electoral process for the sake of partisan advantage are at once insidious and profound. They dangerously undermine the legitimacy of government and encourage rejection of its authority.”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.