I’m getting a lot of e-mail about a Fox and Friends video that looks like deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra might have said. In 2008, two members of the New Black Panther Party showed up to a Philadelphia voting station with a nightstick and tried to chase people away, especially one reporter who got it all on video. The two men were arrested, failed to contest their prosecution, and ended up convicted by default of voter intimidation — until the Department of Justice under Eric Holder decided to withdraw the case, which created a huge controversy over the direction of the Civil Rights Division.
Today, one NBPP member has returned to the same polling station, and F&F suggested that voter intimidation had returned:
Perhaps the NBPP member has that in mind, but there are a couple of important differences. There is nothing illegal about standing outside a voting station. Feel free to try it at home. This person seems to have left the nightstick at home, and he’s not interacting with anyone approaching, unlike the 2008 incident in which the two men actively intimidated the reporter. This may appear intimidating to people, but it’s not a case of illegal voter intimidation to stand outside a polling station in a beret. As Casey Stengel really did say, you can look it up.
On the other hand, as Mary Katharine has reported in our Green Room, the Democratic machine has tried to muscle Republican election observers out of the voting stations. Fortunately a judge has intervened in that dispute, but it shows just how bare-knuckled these fights get on the ground, perhaps especially in Philadelphia. Republicans would do better to keep an eye on Democrats rather than the NBPP.