Are Pennsylvania Republicans Targeting African American Precincts For Voter Intimidation?

A coalition of civil rights groups have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to monitor an effort by the state Republican Party and a local Tea Party group to send poll watchers disproportionately to predominately African American precincts, the Philadelphia City Paper reported Monday. A partial list of targeted precincts, obtained by the groups, suggests that the Pittsburgh Tea Party and the Pennsylvania Republican Party will send observers to watch for “voter fraud” at precincts where African American voter registration is over 79 percent.

According to the letter:

The Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement conducted this training, on behalf of the Republican Party, as part of its program to combat alleged voter fraud in Allegheny County. We understand the Republican Party has targeted approximately 111, out of a total 1,319 precincts, in that county. The partial list, which is attached hereto as Exhibit A, includes 59 of the total 111 precincts targeted by the Republican Party. We are unaware of any history of voter fraud at any of these 59 locations. We are concerned that these locations are being targeted for impermissible, racially-motivated reasons.

A comparison of the 59 Republican Party targeted precincts to the other precincts in Allegheny County reveals that the targeted precincts disproportionately contain African-American voters. Specifically, the targeted precincts are over 79% African-American. By contrast, the nontargeted precincts contain, on average, less than 11% African-American registered voters

The Department of Justice will already be monitoring Allegheny County for potential voter suppression. The Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement website warns that because “the other side cheats,” volunteers must “insure the other side is not sneaking votes onto the machines.” Republican elected officials in Pennsylvania have conceded that they cannot point to examples of any such “voter fraud.”