The 2008 Presidential Election was marred by some unruly, and some say illegal, voting tactics by some members of the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia. Justice Department employee Christopher Coates testified before the Commission on Civil Rights on Friday. Coates said that his department has constantly refused to prosecute the case for fear of backlash and racial tensions because those accused of the charges are black.
The administration has allegedly “gutted” its case and narrowed the charges too much to make any sense according to Coates in the Washington Post. He is testifying against the orders of his immediate supervisor in the Justice Department but is receiving whistleblower protection. There is currently an internal investigation as to what should be done about the New Black Panther case.
The right to vote in America is considered sacred. Yet despite our modern society we still have difficulty with voter fraud and voting irregularities in the United States. Here’s a look at how the New Black Panther case stacks up against other contemporary examples.
Presidential Election of 2000
The state of Florida will forever live in infamy as the state that couldn’t make up its mind when it came to deciding who won the 2000 Presidential Election. Amongst hanging chads, lawsuits filed by both political parties, and the Supreme Court that finally decided to put an end to the voting process, George W. Bush was finally declared the winner over Al Gore.
The Washington Post reported that many things led to mass confusion in Florida during the general election. Some ballots may have been miscounted, misplaced, or lost. Other calamities included a botched database cleanse that confused names of convicted felons with those eligible to vote. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people were not allowed to vote.
Virginia in 2006
The Senate race between George Allen and Jim Webb of Virginia was a heated debate. Phone calls aimed at intimidating voters in order to confuse them came to light after the election and the FBI investigated what state election officials called “deceptive phone calls” according to MSNBC.
The tactic occurred in dozens of counties as automated phone calls allegedly told voters to get out and vote but then stated the wrong polling place. When voters would call back the people who called them to complain they got nowhere.
Cases of voter intimidation actually in front of a polling place are rare. Perhaps that is one of several reasons why this case is getting so much attention. Mostly the case centers upon racial bias. Both the head of the Justice Department and the President are African-American and so are the alleged perpetrators of the voting intimidation which is why Coates is testifying against his employer.
Bias in voting is illegal no matter who intimidates voters. Hopefully the Justice Department will get it right this time despite the controversial matter.
The Washington Post and MSNBC provided information for this article.