Friday, April 15, 2011

Voter Supression: Another page from the Republican playbook

The ties between Stephen Harper's CRAP (Conservative, Reform, Alliance Party) and the American Republican Party are deep and intricate.  A shared network of 'think tanks', action funds, pressure groups, 'student exchange' programs and a deeply shared set of ideological tropes, attitudes, assumptions and tactics.  The days when the Canadian Progressive Conservative Party was still to the left of the American Democratic Party much less the Republicans are long since over.  The current incarnation of Canadian Conservatives has more in common with the American Tea Partys than the PCs of Joe Clark and Brian Mulrooney.

Now they appear to be taking a very noxious page from the Republican voter suppression handbook and attacking the voting rights of students.
The Guelph students say the poll was organized correctly, with a Conservative scrutineer on hand. But Hamilton's letter suggests there was no scrutineer and that campaign material was present at the polling station, which is prohibited.

According to a published report, an attempt was actually made to end the vote as it was happening.

Citing several students who were there at the time, the Guelph Mercury reports that the communications director for the Guelph Conservative Party candidate turned up at the balloting site, claiming the process violated the Elections Canada Act. He reportedly tried to snatch the ballot box away, but left empty-handed.
These kind of tactics and the underlying hostility to the voting rights of students has a long ignoble history in the US, from both the Republicans AND the Democrats (The Clintons did enormous damage to their credibility during the bitter primary battle with Barack Obama when they attacked the rights of college students in Iowa to vote where they went to school.) but it's been an overwhelmingly Republican tactic, particularly in older white communities with young racially diverse or majority black schools in their borders.

How much of a backlash the Conservatives face from this thuggish attack on student voters will affect how much of this tactic we see in the future.

UPDATE: Elections Canada: The poll was valid and the votes WILL be counted.

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