As Election Nears, Cries of Voter Intimidation
"[The billboards] shouldn't dissuade people from voting," Ruman said. "The message is that if you have an ID, show it, but it does not indicate that it is required."
In some cases, a simple government error could lead voters astray.
In Maricopa County, Ariz., which boasts a robust Latino population, the County Recorder's office printed two separate Spanish-language documents listed Election Day as November 8 -- rather than November 6 -- even while the the English-language versions had the correct date.
Yvonne Reed, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Department of Elections, says the mistakes were innocent errors and a product of the fact that Election Day was on November 8 last year. She cited a series of outreach efforts aimed at informing the Latino community of the correct date, including a press conference and ad buys, to make up for the 2,000+ documents that were circulated with misinformation.
That's not the only recent mishap in Maricopa County, however. In an interview with Phoenix CBS affiliate KPHO, Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell seemed to suggest that it's illegal for volunteers to hand in other peoples' early voting ballots, though that's not true. The Recorder's office said later Purcell was referring to people who inaccurately presented themselves as government officials, and again stressed its efforts to right the error. Still, the inaccurate report was later cited in a campaign robo-call on behalf of Joe Arpaio, the county's controversial sheriff, who urged voters "not to give your ballot to anyone who comes to your door."
Similar mishaps have taken place in Ohio: According to the Washington Post, officials in Ottawa County sent out mailers announcing Election Day as Thursday, November 8, and got the location of a polling place wrong.
Bullying at the polls?
In addition to a slew of voter ID laws that have popped across the country, a handful of organizations are pledging to send volunteers to the polls on Election Day in what they say is an ongoing attempt to prevent voter fraud. Chief among these groups is True the Vote, a Texas-based, Tea Party-influenced organization that aims to "detect problem areas" in existing registration lists (ostensibly to suss out potentially fraudulent registrations), and generally "restore truth, faith, and integrity to our elections." According to the New Yorker, True the Vote has spurred voter ID related legislation in 37 states since 2011.
Voting rights advocates contend that, because there's no history of meaningful voter fraud in recent history, these groups are essentially attempting to target minorities and urban populations by training poll workers to intimidate Democratic demographics at the polls come Election Day. According to The Nation, True the Vote is attempting to recruit a million poll watchers and workers to make voters feel "like driving and seeing the police follow you" on Election Day.