COLUMNS

Beware of voter intimidation tactics

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

This is an important election, historic even. Therefore, it is bound to be rife with accusations of fraud and wrong-doing.

The campaigns around here are already plagued with accusations of all sorts, true or not.

Peoria County Democrats have jumped on the bandwagon, but, they have good reason.

Today several Democrats gathered to discuss the issue of voter intimidation.Some Democrats said they anticipate some of the same dirty tricks used in the past to suppress votes.

“In the last presidential election voters in Peoria received anonymous mailers specifically designed to scare minorities and prevent them from voting,” Peoria County Democratic chairman Billy Halstead said.

“In this historic election year, with so much at stake, we can fully expect that there will be some people that will do anything to keep Democrats from voting, including spreading lies and false threats.”

Halstead said in 2004, an anonymous post card was sent into predominantly African-American communities in and around Peoria stating that voter registrations were under suspicion and that anyone who showed at the polls may be subject to arrest for voter fraud and sentenced to 5 years in jail.

The information on the cards, he said, was completely false and aimed at scaring potential voters into not voting.

The Democrats warned voters should beware of any phone call or flyers informing them of a last-minute change to their polling place.

“This election will likely see the largest turnout of voters in years, including new voters who are unfamiliar with voting procedures,” NAACP political chair Jackie Petty said.

“It is now more important than ever to make sure people are not denied their right to participate in the democratic process because of unlawful voter suppression tactics.”

Voters should know if they are properly registered to vote no one can prevent them from voting.

The Democrats added that voters should ignore claims that police will be at polling places to arrest voters for any reason or that multiple forms of identification are needed to vote.

Voters with a valid voter registration card do not need any other identification.

Any voter who is denied their right to vote or has received threatening or harassing materials or phone calls should call the Peoria County Clerk’s office (309) 672-6059, the Peoria Election Commission (309) 494-8683 or the Illinois Attorney General at (800) 243-0618 to report the incident.