African Americans in Florida Continue Reports of Discrimination at Polls


NOVEMBER 14—Even as a growing number of major news outlets are urging an end to pursuit of claims that black citizens were wrongly discouraged or kept from the Florida polls, the NAACP continues to pile up testimony from African Americans who say they were disenfranchised. The NAACP wants the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the situation.

Among the NAACP’s claims:

African Americans received phone calls the weekend before the election from a speaker who claimed to be with the NAACP, asking them to vote for Bush. Similar calls were reported in Michigan and Virginia. The NAACP, of course, is bipartisan and doesn’t officially endorse candidates.

In Volusia County, roadblocks were set up a few hundred yards from voting places. Police stopped cars and asked black men to get out of their vehicles and produce identification. The Justice Department is investigating these reports.

School employees found ballot boxes stuffed with votes the morning after the election in at least four predominantly black Miami-area schools, which had been used as polling places. The boxes were then sent to elections officials.

In a maneuver that smacks of the old civil rights fights in the South, substantial numbers of blacks were turned away from polling booths in various parts of the state. In Hillsborough County, sheriff’s deputies checked voter IDs and claimed the race stated on the card didn’t match the race of the person standing in front of them. “I can’t tell you how many times it happened,” Sheila Douglas of the NAACP told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “but it happened more often than not.”

The paper’s calls to the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office were not returned. Nizam Arain, who is working with Reverend Jesse Jackson’s team of investigators, claimed black men in Hillsborough County were turned away from polling places as convicted felons, even though there was no proof of that. Jackson later said some black voters were told there were no more ballots or that polls were closed.