26.7.04

Florida's at it again!

Why hasn't this story gotten more play? Given the role Florida played in the last election, and rumors that all eyes would be on the state in this one, I'm surprised that this hasn't been picked up. Yes, people are all-consumed with l'affaire Berger and the upcoming DNC, but still... (thanks to M. for the lead)

One 23 July, the Miami Herald reported GOP gets scolded on recruitment (registration required, so go to http://www.bugmenot.com for an id and password)
Just before the new citizens left the June 29 event, an immigration official directing the swearing-in urged the them to stop by a voter registration table -- a not uncommon sight at naturalization ceremonies.

But this table was unusual: Those handing out forms were Republican volunteers -- and the party affiliation box had been checked off ahead of time to make all of the new voters members of the GOP.
It didn't take me long to find that this is actually part of the GOP strategy, as per the NFRW Political Briefing:
As new immigrants enter the United States to become citizens, it is necessary to raise their awareness about the importance of registering to vote and of the strengths of the Republican Party. You can be a part of this process. You can involve our nation’s newest citizens and at the same time, help the Republican Party grow. There are several ways to approach this, and several different avenues through which to serve.
The briefing goes on to mention several ways, including this one, used in California:
...the Los Angeles women. They brought a life-sized cardboard cutout of George Bush that stood next to the table. As new citizens came out, the ladies offered to take their picture with the presidential cutout. In addition to the pictures and the registration forms, they were given a “goodie bag” filled with an assortment of things from Republican balloons and literature to candy and pencils. Another key to successfully connecting is to know the audience; any demographic information on the new citizens could help you tailor your presentation.
If a political party wants to provide recently naturalized citizens with information about the political process, including what the parties stand for, that's great. More of us born here in the States should vote (look at how many people actually vote - it's pathetic) and encouraging our newest to do so is a good thing. But to pre-register people is just wrong. It's playing on their presumed ignorance of the law and their rights and their ability to choose how they want to vote. Shame on Florida's GOP.

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