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Indiana Republicans Making Voting Harder for Blacks


From http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/10/indiana_republicans_making_vot.php --

Indiana Republicans Making Voting Harder for Blacks
By Zachary Roth
Indiana is one of the key red states that Barack Obama has unexpectedly put in play this year. So it's not surprising that the GOP is pulling out all the stops to keep it in their column -- including, predictably, launching an effort to make it much harder for African-Americans to vote.

In a nutshell, here's what's happened so far. The details get a little intricate, but stay with us here:

To win Indiana, Obama would likely need a big turnout from three low-income, heavily African-American cities, in the northern part of Lake County, near Chicago. Those three cities -- Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago -- together comprise more than 40 percent of the county's population. But under Indiana law, early voting can take place only in the county clerk's main office, which for Lake County is in Crown Point, more than an hour's drive from those cities.

As a result, on September 23, the county board of elections, on a 3-2 party-line vote, approved the opening of satellite early-voting centers in the the three cities. (State law specifically gives elections boards the authority to approve satellite voting centers, and early voting occurred at the centers in advance of the Democratic primary in May.)

But Republicans argue that the decision is unfair to voters in other parts of the state, many of whom would still need to travel to their county seat to vote early. Last week, the county GOP challenged the move, arguing that the centers can only be approved through a unanimous vote of the election board, and asking for a restraining order on early voting. Superior Court Judge Calvin Hawkins -- a recent appointee of the state's GOP governor, Mitch Daniels -- issued the order Friday.

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November 2008

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