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Election tampering already under way in Florida, elsewhere

Signs of election tampering are emerging in Florida. The state that had many things go wrong in the last presidential election may be facing the same controversial practices again, a possibility that is simply unacceptable.

Over the last weeks, The Oracle has received letters from students who claimed they had signed petitions on campus that changed their voter registration status to Republican even though they did not request it. It is unclear why such practices were done, but it should sound alarm bells that the election is already being tampered with.

Greg Palast, the journalist working for the BBC who broke the story about the flawed purge list that disenfranchised thousands of black voters in 2000 (most of the “purged” voters still remain ineligible to vote today), also made news this week when he reported a list of names that had been marked as the “caging list” that had been sent to the Bush campaign manager in Florida as well as Washington, D.C. The list of 1,886 names and addresses of black voters living around Jacksonville was shown to an election supervisor in Tallahassee who told Palast, “The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on Election Day.”

The Republican Party already announced it would be sending thousands of recruits to polling sites in Ohio, a state that could be as crucial as Florida in the election, to question the validity of voters’ qualifications.

Questioning voters at the polling place is going to tie up the voting process. Long lines are already expected and such tactics are only going to make matters worse. In 2000, long lines and harassment deterred some eligible voters from casting their votes.

According to USF College Democrats president John Duddy, registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans in the statewide total. It would therefore make sense for Republicans to long for a low turnout on Election Day, especially in areas where black voters, who historically overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, are the majority. Having a list of likely Democratic voters, such as the one reported by Palast, would definitely help.

It remains to be seen if such election tampering will be taking place Election Day, but voters should be aware that suspicious activity is already being planned. To keep the election legitimate — no matter who will win it in the end — it is imperative that such practices are stopped before they can decide the outcome of the election.