Saturday, May 19, 2012

Now THIS is voter suppression (Arizona edition)

Old-fashioned Jim Crow voter suppression has become a standard procedure for today's Republican Party. This is one sign of how respectable it's become among Republicans: Kim Geiger, Arizona official: It's 'possible' Obama won't make ballot Los Angeles Times 05/18/2012.

Kind of like Abraham Lincoln not even being a choice in the slave states in the election of 1860.

Arizona co-chair of Romney's Presidential campaign Ken Bennett: another Republican white guy who thinks Obama may be one of them thar foreigners

Geiger reports:

In a revival of the controversy surrounding President Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate, a state official in Arizona says it’s “possible” that he’ll hold Obama’s name off the Arizona ballot if Hawaii officials don’t send him confirmation that the president was born there.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, a Republican who is exploring a 2014 race for governor, says he waded into the issue after receiving more than 1,200 emails from people requesting that he verify Obama’s birth in Hawaii before placing the president’s name on the 2012 ballot.
Mr. Swiftboat himself, Jerome Corsi, is part of the story. Matthew Hendley reports for the Phoenix New Times, Ken Bennett, Arizona Secretary of State, Plays to the "Birthers" 05/17/2012:

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who just recently filed the paperwork for an exploratory committee in the 2014 Arizona gubernatorial race, appears to be the latest Arizona politician to play to the "birther" crowd.

In the mess that is Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's "investigation" into President Obama's birth certificate, conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi has already courted the likes of state Representatives David Burnell Smith, Jack Harper, and Carl Seel as well as state Senator Lori Klein and others into making appearances at "birther"-related press conferences.

Now, Corsi claims to have some support from Bennett to deal with the Obama birth-certificate issue.
But in Arizona today, this kind of thing can look like a promising career enhancer to Republican politicians. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez writes in Arizona Secretary of State Bennett seeks verification of Obama's citizenship Arizona Republic 05/18/2012:

Yet the state's No.2 elected official has waded into the highly charged controversy, asking the island state to verify the president's birthplace to ensure Obama can appear on Arizona's Nov.6 ballot.

In doing so, Bennett, who is co-chairman for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Arizona campaign, has reignited the birther debate coast to coast. ...

Bennett, who is exploring a 2014 gubernatorial run, told The Arizona Republic on Friday that he could not recall the name of the constituent who made the request. Documents obtained through a public-records inquiry show Bennett's office in early March began communicating with individuals asking the office to look into Obama's birth following an investigation by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. [my emphasis]
The Democrats there are making some kind of response:

The White House did not respond to requests for comment. The Obama campaign in Arizona, however, released a statement saying the president's name will appear on the ballot.

"Secretary of State Bennett's flirtation with a conspiracy theory that has been debunked time and time again will have no bearing on the election, but it does present an opportunity for Mitt Romney to finally rise to the occasion and denounce the extreme voices in his party," said Mahen Gunaratna, Arizona communications director for Obama for America.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, said Bennett had bowed to pressure from "tea party" birthers.

"This is just blatant political pandering," he said in a statement. "He is jeopardizing the integrity of our election system to appease a fringe movement."
But why shouldn't the White House make a big stink over this? Supposedly they are trying to paint Romney as an extremist. It seems to me that dogging him with this action by his Arizona state co-chairman makes good political sense.

On the general topic of voter suppression, see also: Tampa Bay Times editorial, Voter fraud effort smacks of voter suppression campaign 05/17/2012; Sandhya Bathija, Voter Suppression Laws: Will We Let Them Impact the 2012 Election? ACLU 05/10/2012.

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