Suppressing votes by sending out confusing and intimidating mailers is an old-school GOP tactic in North Carolina, one that has been used to keep poor and minority folks away from the polls for decades. Yet never before in the state’s history, or the history of any state, for that matter, has anyone ever been recorded trying to suppress the cat vote.
But that’s just what a group backed by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is alleged to have done.
As MSNBC reported yesterday, the group Americans for Prosperity is “being investigated for sending mailers with incorrect information about how to register to vote to hundreds of North Carolina voters—and one cat.”
The state board of elections is responding to a formal sworn complaint from the state Democratic Party about the mailers sent out with misleading information about the 2014 general election — which happens to be a felony.
AFP is a Tea Party group that specializes in voter suppression, having polished its skills in the Wisconsion recall election back in 2011, when it sent out bogus absentee ballots. Of the North Carolina scheme, the group basically said, oops! — claiming the mailers were just a silly mistake.
The details from MSNBC: “The ‘official application form’ sent by AFP tells people to return their application to the secretary of state’s office, but the envelope is addressed to the state board of elections. In fact, applications shouldn’t go to either place — they should be sent to a voter’s local election board. The form also tells applicants that it’s due 30 days before an election, when it’s actually due 25 days before. And it includes the wrong zip code for the board of elections.”
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, the state elections board phone line has been ringing off the hook with complaints from angry citizens, including one from a woman who reported that she received a form addressed to her cat.
It is unlikely that cats will make the difference in a heated U.S. senate race that could help determine control of that body. But turnout among blacks is another matter, and Republicans know that the more people of color they can keep away from the polls, the less chance Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan has of pulling off a victory.
Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.” She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. She is the director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.