Voter Intimidation Targeted By Obama
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday that voter intimidation practices are targeting minorities, senior citizens and the poor and must stop in time for the next election.
The Illinois senator's comments came as he testified in support of his bill to create prison sentences of up to five years for anyone who knowingly deceived voters on the time, place or manner of conducting a federal election.
"It's hard to imagine that we even need a bill like this," Obama told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing. "But unfortunately there are people who will stop at nothing to try to deceive voters and keep them away from the polls. What's worse, these practices often target and exploit vulnerable populations, such as minorities, the disabled, the elderly or the poor."
Only one lawmaker _ Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. _ was sitting on the panel when Obama testified. When Cardin ran against then Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, homeless people from Philadelphia were paid $100 each by Republicans, he said, to distribute leaflets falsely implying prominent Maryland blacks were backing Steele.
Obama said stopping voter intimidation shouldn't be a political debate. And it's one issue that has united him with his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination _ New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is a co-sponsor of his bill.