As Karl Rove's former right-hand man abruptly resigns, more details are emerging of yet another sly and illegal "campaign strategy" used by the GOP in the 2004 election. The basic idea behind the Republican strategy is to suppress the voting rights of African Americans. Why? Because African Americans overwhelmingly vote against the Republican Party. Tim Griffin, the Rove adviser who just resigned, is at the center of this brewing scandal. The practice known as "caging" is just the latest dirty trick to be uncovered in a long history of dirty Republican tricks designed to undermine not only the Democratic Party but also small-d democracy in America.
Dahlia Lithwick at Slate has an excellent article on how caging works. Basically, what happens is the GOP contacts local city clerks and election commissioners and gives them a list of registered voters that they want "caged." The election officials then mail a letter to the voters' address. The letter requires the voter to send back a reply card within a few weeks in order to confirm that the address is valid. No problem, right? Well, the problem comes in that the list of voters targeted by the GOP is specifically limited to African Americans, and that's a clear violation of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
The GOP also appears to have especially targeted African American soldiers that are deployed abroad and people who don't have a home. This means that that the voter registrations of untold numbers of Democratic soldiers were canceled because the soldiers weren't at home to send a reply card back to the elections office.
How do we know all this? Well, there's documentary evidence including emails and spreadsheets of names and addresses that clearly show the GOP effort to clear the voter rolls of African Americans in Florida. Former top Justice Department official Monica Goodling was questioned under oath about this last week, and she appeared to admit that "caging" is a strategy employed by Republicans. I guess we shouldn't be surprised at yet another example of institutionalized racism perpetrated by people entrusted to protect voting rights. We shouldn't be surprised, but as Lithwick suggests, we should be "madder than heck."