Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

GOP poll challenges in Detroit today

8. November 2005 • Jason Voss
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As Detroiters go to the polls today to elect a new Mayor, they will likely be met with poll challengers sent by the Republican party, despite objections by the NAACP. As reported by The Michigan Citizen, GOP officials said recently that they would be sending poll challengers to Detroit, Ecorse, and Kentwood in Grand Rapids mayoral elections as a training exercise ahead of the 2006 statewide elections.

But the Detroit chapter of the NAACP said the move is symptomatic of the GOP strategy to intimidate Black voters and has asked the state Republican Party to back off its plan to send challengers to Detroit’s mayoral election.

During the 2004 presidential election, Detroit experienced Republican challengers interfering with voters by asking them for their driver’s licenses and dispensing false information. For instance, some poll challengers reportedly told people that if they owed child support or were late on their rent, they could not vote.

Many critics connect the GOP’s current tactics to Jim Crow era policies that were also designed to discourage African Americans from voting. One Detroiter said,
“The poll taxes of the 50’s and 60’s, which served as a measure to suppress the Black vote, have now been shifted to a voter challenge to suppress the Black vote in the 2000s.”

(from Black Box Radio local headlines 11-08-2005)