Friday, October 27, 2006

Black Voters Are Disillusioned

The "Black Vote" is a sought-after commodity yet again. However, the Stolen Election of 2000 and the voting inconsistencies in Ohio during the 2004 election has led to further distrust in a system that many black folks had very little faith in to begin with.

Last weekend, Jim Webb, the Virginia Democrat who hopes to oust Senator George Allen, crammed in visits to 12 black churches, and for several weeks he has been pumping money into advertisements on black radio stations and in black newspapers.

In Missouri, Claire McCaskill, the Democrat trying to unseat Senator Jim Talent, has been running advertisements about sickle cell anemia, a genetic illness that mostly afflicts black people, and the importance of stem cell research in helping to find a cure.

For Democrats like these in tight races, black voter turnout will be crucial on Election Day. But despite a generally buoyant Democratic Party nationally, there are worries among Democratic strategists in some states that blacks may not turn up at the polls in big enough numbers because of disillusionment over past shenanigans.

“This notion that elections are stolen and that elections are rigged is so common in the public sphere that we’re having to go out of our way to counter them this year,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist.

This will be the first midterm election in which the Democratic Party is mobilizing teams of lawyers and poll watchers, to check for irregularities including suppression of the black vote, in at least a dozen of the closest districts, Ms. Brazile said.

Democrats’ worries are backed up by a Pew Research Center report that found that blacks were twice as likely now than they were in 2004 to say they had little or no confidence in the voting system, rising to 29 percent from 15 percent.

And more than three times as many blacks as whites — 29 percent versus 8 percent — say they do not believe that their vote will be accurately tallied.

Voting experts say the disillusionment is the cumulative effect of election problems in 2000 and 2004, and a reaction to new identification and voter registration laws.


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