Harassment and intimidation thread

Keeping track of the day’s outrages. So far, we’ve got phone calls threatening Virginia Democrats with arrest if they try to vote and armed intimidation of Latino voters in Arizona. If you see something, please send it in.

I’ll be updating this all day. If you spot something interesting that isn’t here, post a comment or send an email to markarkleiman (at) gmail (dot) com.


Fake phone calls purporting to come from elections officials threatening Democratic voters with arrest if they try to vote.

Guns and fake badges in Tucson, AZ:.

Nina Perales, a senior poll-watcher for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), called me from Tucson’s Iglesia Bautista precinct, where the three men are approaching Latino voters and videotaping them on their way to vote.

“As voters are coming out of their cars and walking up towards their polls, one person is videotaping the voter as he walks towards the polling place,” she said. Then another person, wearing an American flag bandana and a shirt with the image of a badge ironed or embroidered on it, approaches with a clipboard to talk to the voter. “While the clipboard person is. . .talking to [the voter], the cameraperson comes up and starts videotaping their face,” Perales said.

As this happens, the third man — with a gun visible in a sideholster — stands next to the voter. According to Perales, he is wearing a shirt with an American flag on it, and camouflage shorts.

The men only approach Latino voters, she said, and noted they have been doing so since early this morning.

Perales’ group has contacted the Department of Justice and the FBI. The Feds have asked her group to keep an eye on the situation.

“Keep an eye on the situation”?!

I’d like to hear the “armed-society-is-a-polite-society” gun-rights advocates address this one. Obviously, the gun, along with the simulated badge, is intended to intimidate, not just the voter, but anyone who might otherwise try to interfere with the harassment, for example by videotaping it. Do we need armed bands of voter escorts? Would armed confrontations around polling places contribute to democracy? But of course if one side is armed and the other isn’t the rights of the disarmed are entirely determined by the forbearance of the folks with the guns.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

Comments are closed.