Sleazy phone calls

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Democrats righteously -- and appropriately -- complain every election season when there are attempts by Republicans to suppress votes, typically in minority communities. This happened most famously in California in the mid-1990s when Orange County Republicans hired menacing security guards to stand outside of polling places in Latino communities.

But on Tuesday night around the state, some Democratic-leaning group, perhaps a labor union, put out thousands of automated phone calls to Republican voters in targeted legislative districts. The calls were placed about 5:30 p.m. and were designed to discourage Republicans from going out to polling places in the evening to cast a vote.

The calls were identified as "breaking news" and informed GOP voters of the election news that was coming in from the East Coast: Barack Obama was well on his way to a presidential landslide victory and Democrats were registering big gains in Congress. The implied message: It's all over, your vote won't make any difference, so why not just stay home and have a beer.

A number of these calls were placed to voters in Ventura County, designed to suppress Republican turnout in the critical 19th Senate District. GOP candidate Tony Strickland told me yesterday that his phone bankers had to work furiously to try to counteract the effect of those robo-calls.

Voter suppression can work both ways, and is just as repugnant from either side.

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95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at therdt@vcstar.com
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