On Thursday, the head of the Maine Republican Party found himself on the wrong side of controversy after he questioned the legitimacy of “dozens” of black people voting at the polls on Election Day. “Nobody in town knows anyone who’s black,” Charlie Webster — who has since apologized for his comments — declared.
Such faulty logic is more widespread throughout the Republican party, it seems. Racial justice news site ColorLines published a video the day after the election of a self-identified Republican poll worker in Colorado who can be heard phoning in his concerns that “a very high concentration of people of color” were turning out in his precinct, and that such turnout was suspicious because he normally sees fewer minorities “at the mall”:
“Yeah, a very high concentration of people of color. It’s not a problem, but, you know, when I go to the mall I see, you know this amount. Well I’m seeing at least double or triple that amount here. So what I’m saying is, it looks to me like this voting location was selected as the place they told everyone to come.”
As with Webster, the poll worker, identified by Color Lines as Dayton Conway, offers no evidence of any foul play at all other than his gut feeling that there were more minorities at his polling location than he normally sees at the mall. Conway perhaps failed to note that his polling location — the Arapahoe County CentrePoint Plaza in Aurora, Colorado — was one of 32 designated voting centers where voters who are registered anywhere in Arapahoe County could cast their ballots, meaning the turnout there might not be reflective of the precinct’s actual demographics.
Sadly, Conway’s instinctual suspicion of minority voters is something of a trend for Republicans this year. After the election, Rep. Paul Ryan blamed “urban voters” for costing him the vice presidency, while Mitt Romney argued that Obama won reelection by doling out “gifts” like health care, affordable education and food to minority groups and the impoverished.