Republicans attempt to suppress votes in challenge states

Republicans begin efforts to suppress the vote in Florida and California, via “We have you registered as a republican” mailers with “Do Not Forward” stamped on them. Election officials criticize the efforts.

The piece, paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain, tells voters it is seeking to double-check their “unconfirmed” party affiliations while asking for money. A letter signed by McCain tells the Democrats: “We have you registered as a Republican.”

Two top Florida elections officials, both Republicans, faulted the GOP mailing, calling it “confusing” and “unfortunate” because of a potential to undermine voter confidence by making them question the accuracy of their registrations.

“It is unfortunate, because it does put a lot of doubt in people’s minds,” said Secretary of State Kurt Browning, the state’s top elections official.

After his office received dozens of calls, Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland issued a media alert that his office had nothing to do with it. “They were upset folks and they were very concerned,” said Holland, a Republican. “They mainly said their party (listing) was different than it was.”

Some Democrats suspect a motive beyond raising money. The first-class GOP mailing has a “Do not forward” instruction on the envelope, meaning they will be returned to the GOP if a recipient has had mail forwarded, perhaps to a summer address, or has moved.

Letters returned as undeliverable can be compiled into “challenge lists” of unverifiable addresses and can be used to challenge voters’ eligibility during early voting or on Election Day. The vote suppression technique is known as “vote caging.”

The letter asks recipients to note changes on an “RNC File Card” and return it to the party by Sept. 26. The card shows a nine-digit “voter ID” number, but the supervisor of elections in Jacksonville’s Duval County said the numbers are wrong and do not match the state’s voter database.

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