Updated: Sep 5, 2020
As the election approaches, we need to be vigilant about the many forms that voter suppression will take. Whether it's Donald Trump rage-tweeting that vote-by-mail is a fraud or mailboxes being removed in vote-by-mail blue states, it's voter suppression.
Those are blatant, "above the fold" forms of voter suppression. But it can be done in more underhanded, "below the radar" ways. Far right groups have been quietly working on a different sort of campaign: Robocalls to mixed or low-income neighborhoods where there is likely to be a diverse population.
We were alerted to just such a robocall today. Here's the transcript:
Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts? The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man, stay home safe and beware of vote by mail.
You can listen to the robocall message here:
The messages here is clear. Don't risk voting by mail. If you vote by mail "the system" will take your personal information. Police will come and find you. Bill collectors will be at your door. You'll be forced to take vaccines. Don't take the risk.
The calls have been reported targeting Democrat-heavy cities in various swing states, such as Philadelphia and Detroit. And they are also here in New York City.
The odd twist is that the initiative, Project 1599, and its key sponsors, Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl were identified in the call. Right-wing watch identifies Project 1599 as a project of People for the American Way. For more information, check out their article, Right-Wing Political Operatives Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl Target Black Voters With Robocalls, Disinformation. Burkman and Wohl are known for scams, some of which involved robocalls. Yet, they deny involvement, saying they would not have left their calling card.
It doesn't really matter. If it's not Burkman and Wohl, it's someone else cut from their cloth.
So what can you do?
Share this with friends and fellow concerned citizens, especially those in cities in swing states and ask them to be truth amplifies on both vote by mail and early voting in those states that have it, which are many. Not sure? Check here: Vote.org
Ask our elected officials, and those who are not yet elected but on the ballot, to be truth amplifiers.
Amplify the truth ourselves. If you're in New York, make a plan to vote early and bring people with you.
Every vote matters. And every vote lost matters too.