In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling effectively prohibiting recounts in Florida of what are being called “undervotes” — a ruling that has decided the presidential election — the Justice Department is continuing to conduct a “field review” of voting practices in the state to determine whether to authorize a full-scale investigation of these practices. The specific question the Justice Department is examining should be familiar to most of those who have been reading or watching the news on the election controversy over the past month. Several major American news publications — among them the New York Times, the Palm Beach Post, and Salon.com — have run articles giving some substance to what had previously been vaguely defined and inconclusive accusations among Floridians: that African Americans and other minorities in Florida had trouble casting their legitimate votes due to intimidation, government-sponsored obstructionism, or other problems. These articles suggest that the state of Florida used a largely erroneous list of “felons” and other ineligible voters to turn people away at the polls or otherwise discourage legal votes from being cast. Some of the articles go on to suggest that racial profiling was factored in when these lists were being compiled, in a practice apparently known as “voter scrub” or “voter cleansing.”
These articles also point to broader efforts that may have been undertaken in Florida to suppress minority votes, efforts involving, among other things, a preponderance of outdated and difficult-to-use balloting devices in districts with large minority populations.
Without speaking to the truth or falsity of these accusations, the below-listed PopMatters contributors would like to underscore their seriousness. They call into grave question what we would hope are commonly held goals of achieving racial equality and universal voter representation in the United States. We would like to encourage our readers to become and remain as informed as possible about these events as they unfold, and to use any and all legal means to express their opinions concerning this ongoing dispute to their legislators and representatives.
Patrick D. Jones
Rob van Kranenburg
Mark Anthony Neal
Patrick Partridge Jr.