Posted by | October 29, 2010 18:54 | Filed under: Contributors Opinion Sandi Behrns

by Sandi Behrns

For the last few weeks, there has been a right-wing whisper campaign in Arizona disseminating the false idea that illegal immigrants are being organized to steal the election for Democrats. This week, GOP candidate for AZ-8, Jesse Kelley, went so far as to publicly claim that:

They literally bus people across from Mexico to have them vote at the polls on Election Day, give them a meal and then bus them back.

This is, of course, an old urban legend with absolutely no basis in reality. Still, it serves the right-wing purpose of stirring up fear and stoking anger just in time for election day. Predictably, “America’s Toughest”  Sheriff Joe Arpaio has taken the bait. On Tuesday, Arpaio sent an email with the following message to his followers:

STOP ILLEGALS FROM STEALING THE ELECTION! Our grassroots army of voter fraud prevention volunteers will stand vigilant across the nation. We will be the first and strongest line of defense to ensure that only legal citizens vote on November 2nd. …

Sadly, we are not just fighting criminals from other nations. We are fighting our own president and very determined individuals in America who want to disenfranchise U.S. Citizens of their votes.

Yes. Joe Arpaio is recruiting an “army” to block people from voting in the name of “fraud prevention.” What criteria will these vigilante poll watchers use to determine who to target? The courts have already nullified Arizona’s voter ID law, so one has to wonder just how Arpaio’s army is going to enforce the citizenship requirement. My money’s on straight-up voter intimidation aimed solely at Latinos.

The email even cites the “fact” that in AZ-7, “more than 65% of the 3,000+ new voters registrations submitted by Mi Familia Vota and One Arizona were found to be invalid.” Unfortunately for Sheriff Joe, that “fact” was essentially made up by a notoriously unreliable right-wing blogger with a history of inaccuracies. The claim has been thoroughly debunked. (Not that Arpaio would let a pesky thing like facts get in the way.)

In response, America’s Voice has started the “Protect Our Vote” campaign to lobby the Justice Department to send election monitors to Arizona. They are also providing a toll-free number for reporting voter suppression and a “voter protection card” which people can print out and take with them to the polls. The card includes the toll-free number as well as reiteration of your voting rights.  Despite this effort, it looks like Tuesday is going to get ugly.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.