In recent years, conservative hysteria has homed in on the bad things Democrats (those who happen to be black) will allegedly do to win elections. That is, voter fraud — or if that fails, intimidation.
So, on Election Day, media outlets from around the country stopped by the polling place at 13th Street and Fairmount Avenue in search of New Black Panther Party members causing trouble. Rumors of such intimidation made national headlines in 2008; on Tuesday, their alleged return made the front page of Fox News’ website. But what reporters found was Jerry Jackson, a party member and 14th Ward Democratic committeeman, handing out sample ballots and holding the door for elderly voters.
“I don’t have no comment,” said Jackson. “You ain’t going to get a rise out of me.” A police civil affairs officer sat in an unmarked car. Nothing, he said, was going on. And 14th Ward Democratic vice-chair Willie Brown agreed: “That stuff happened in ’08 and they keep harping on it.” The many media visits were the only source of intimidation he worried about. “It causes a problem when people come in to vote and there are people standing there with cameras,” he said. “That’s why the police are here.”
Conservative groups like True the Vote have continued to rail about “the obvious voter intimidation” perpetrated by the Panthers four years ago. But even that incident was not so obvious. Two party members had briefly stood outside the polling place, one carrying a nightstick. But no victims were ever put forward. Jackson will likely be back in 2014. And so, maybe, will Fox News.