Vote suppression in North Carolina?

Looks that way. From a group whose “leadership team” used to include Maggie Williams, her business partner, and the direct-mail guy for the Clinton campaign.

Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes is a 501 c(3) nonprofit devoted to registering unmarried women to vote. It has lots of connections to the Clinton campaign; as of a year ago, the “leadership team” included Maggie Williams, her business partner Pat Griffin, and Hal Malchow, now the direct-mail honcho of the Clinton campaign.

WVWV paid for a bunch of robo-calls to black voters in North Carolina &#8212 men as well as women &#8212 in which someone identified only as “Lamont Williams” said that a voter registration packet was on its way to them and that they should sign it and mail it back to be registered to vote. The calls went out after the mail-in registration deadline, but before the deadline for one-stop registration and early voting; any voter who relied on the information in the call would wind up being disenfranchised for the upcoming primary. In addition, many of the recipients were already registered, and the calls were well-designed to cause them to doubt whether they could vote before receiving the promised package in the mail.

The calls came from an “ID blocked” number and included no reference to WVWV, which makes them illegal in North Carolina. WVWV has been caught doing similar things in black neighborhoods just before other primaries this year, including in Virginia.

So: Was this an amazing set of good-faith mistakes, or was it a series of attempts by people friendly to the Clinton campaign to suppress the black vote in order to benefit HRC against Obama?

Considering the illegal anonymity (“Lamont Williams” does not exist), the targeting of black neighborhoods rather than women (and the use of a streotypically “black” name for the caller), the unlikelihood that a well-funded, highly professional voter-registration group would not know about the registration deadlines and be unable to restrict its mailings to people not yet registered, the national pattern, and the amazingly lame response by WVWC after they were caught, what do you think?

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: