Don’t Democrats Call This Voter Suppression?

Isn’t this the kind of thing Democrats (and we’ve done posts on it and decried it) denounce when Republicans do it to keep Democratic voters away from the polls?

Nevada’s state teachers union and six Las Vegas area residents filed a lawsuit late Friday that could make it harder for many members of the state’s huge hotel workers union to vote in the hotly contested Jan. 19 Democratic caucus in Nevada.

This is ANOTHER one of these stories that has a strange coincidence: if you read it, there is a link to supporters of New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Read on:

The 13-page lawsuit in federal district court here comes two days after the 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Nevada endorsed Senator Barack Obama, a blow to Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Obama addressed the Culinary Union at their hall earlier Friday.

The lawsuit argues that the Nevada Democratic Party’s decision, decided late last year, to create at-large precincts inside nine Las Vegas resorts on caucus day violates the state’s election laws and creates a system in which voters at the at-large precincts can elect more delegates than voters at other precincts. The lawsuit employs a complex mathematical formula to show that voters at the other 1,754 precincts would have less influence with their votes.

And — here we go again — here’s yet another coincidence. It appears that some of the folks involved support the campaign of New York Senator Hillary Clinton:

The at-large precincts are being established because thousands of hotel workers cannot leave work to participate in the midday caucuses in their home precincts. The Nevada State Education Association has said it would not endorse any Democrat, but some of its top officials have endorsed Mrs. Clinton. The association’s deputy executive director, Debbie Cahill, for instance, was a founding member of Senator Clinton’s Nevada Women’s Leadership Council.

“This could shut down those precincts in the casinos and keep culinary members from voting,” said Jon Ralston, a political pundit with The Las Vegas Sun, who broke the story on his blog. Mr. Ralston said it is unclear whether there are ties between the lawsuit and the Clinton campaign but, he predicted, “Even if they’re Hillary supporters, the campaign’s going to say they had nothing to do with it. It is unclear when the court will hear the matter.

FOOTNOTE: I’m an independent voter registered here in CA. I just got my absentee ballot. I can and will vote in the Democratic primary. I want to see elections that are UNFETTERED by coincidences such as:

–The possibility that members of a union that endorsed Obama may not be able to vote or be in any way hampered from voting their choice by a group that has Clinton supporters.

–The unnamed Clinton camp member who suggested to a reporter people who vote for Obama do so because they want a cool black friend but if they vote for Hillary, they’re voting for change. The official should be fired by Ms. Clinton. If a Republican said that to a reporter, he/she would accused of playing the race card.

–Senator Bob Kerrey, saying later he was only trying to compliment Obama, raising repeatedly Obama’s Muslim ties. With friends like these….

–The “shuck and jive” comment later explained as not referring to Obama by New York’s Andrew Cuomo (explained well).

–The attempt to get reporters to write more about Obama’s admitted early drug use. The official resigned, but the story was shoved into the news cycle and even the resignation stories got what the official wanted into the news cycle.

–Comments former President Bill Clinton had to apologize for as he faces a backlash from some blacks. Bill Clinton has an excellent record in terms of the black community. But by raising this and then denying it, the issue of race is again injected into the campaign. Aren’t there enough ISSUES around for Hillary and Barack (and Bill) to discuss? Some wonder if there is an actual racial strategy at play here.

If the Clinton camp was SMART, they will move heaven and earth to ensure that these Nevada voters who want Obama will be allowed to vote.

If not, no matter how it is denied, even if the denial is 100 percent correct, it will be seen by many non-Hillary Democrats as voter suppression. Applying the same standard applied to questions about Republicans, there could be no other conclusion — even if the Clinton camp has proof it is not involved.

All of these events that on the surface smell of old-style, sleazy politics (coincidence or not) are truly a pity. Because Ms. Clinton is coming into her own as a campaigner:

(1) She was on television here in San Diego in a live broadcast from Bonita, about 20 miles from the San Diego-Tijuana border. She truly HAS found her voice. She looks relaxed, telegenic, and now has a way of coming across as someone who is involved in a conversation with voters one-on-one, rather than reading talking points. So her campaign technique and skills are on the scent.

(2) She is winning some admirers, and not just among women. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has praised her, saying some of the things we’ve noted here:

After Clinton’s third-place finish in the Jan. 3 Iowa Democratic caucuses, “it would have been very easy for her to have broken, accepted defeat,” Gingrich said in a weekly podcast e-mailed to supporters.

“Instead, starting on Saturday night, she fought back with greater and greater intensity, and she opened herself up,” Gingrich went on. “She talked as a person, without all the protection, without all the discipline, and she became more and more appealing.”

Gingrich said that shift demonstrated “the courage to learn” and enabled the New York senator to grow “in the space of three or four days to a much more attractive, much more aggressive and much more appealing candidate.”

As a result, he posited, New Hampshire voters who made up their minds at the last minute “were going to Sen. Clinton, were affected by her campaign, by her integrity, by her openness.”

And if you look at the list above, it makes a case for independent voters who truly want to see campaigns waged on the discussion of issues and not peppered with coincidences that on paper seem to fit a pattern decide to cast a vote AGAINST a kind of politics.…rather than a vote FOR or against any particular candidate.

My absentee ballot is sitting here — begging to be filled out.

SOME BLOG REACTION:

Daily Kos:

So why file a suit now? The only thing that’s changed is the Culinary Workers’ endorsement of Obama, and the tightness of the race. Though the teachers union has not endorsed Clinton, some of its top officials have, and this move is widely seen as an attempt to minimize the effect of the Culinary endorsement for Obama.

After Iowa, Hillary Clinton expressed her disapproval of a system that disenfranchises many workers. Nevada has gone out of its way to mitigate that effect of the caucus system, only to have apparently politically motivated objections arise late, apparently on her behalf. Over at TalkLeft, Jeralyn suggests ways the teachers union’s concerns might be dealt with. But whatever the legitimacy of their concerns, the timing is shameful.

Blue Crab Boulevard:

It would be interesting to know what percentage of the culinary workers are from minority groups. Which I am fairly certain we’ll be hearing very soon. What is the usual song and dance from the Democrats about Republicans trying to disenfranchise minorities? With never an iota of truth, that smear gets repeated endlessly. (There are a lot of them, I have been to Vegas once.)

The Democrats, however, really do attempt to take votes away from people. Just ask the people in the culinary workforce in Nevada. This is sleazy, even for the Clintonistas.