Mariah Blake

Mariah Blake

Senior Reporter

Mariah Blake is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. She has also written for The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Nation, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, and The Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. E-mail her at mblake [at] motherjones [dot] com or follow her on Twitter.

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Alabama GOP Is Offering $1,000 for Voter Fraud Tips at Polling Places Today

| Tue Jun. 3, 2014 1:21 PM EDT
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue holds up a sample Voter ID after signing the bill into law at the Capitol in Atlanta.

Today, more than 700,000 Alabamans are headed to the polls for the state's Democratic and Republican primaries. It's the first election since Alabama passed its tough new voter ID law, but the Alabama Republican Party apparently doesn't think the bill goes far enough. According to the state GOP newsletter, the party is sending trained volunteers to patrol polling places—and offering $1,000 rewards for tips that lead to felony voter fraud convictions​—all of which could add to the confusion surrounding the new law's requirements. Below is a snippet from the newsletter, which went out Monday:

Any suspicion of fraud or witnessing the willful non-enforcement of the Alabama’s voter laws needs to be reported...."Reward Stop Voter Fraud" signs with our hotline number will be placed at random polling locations tomorrow and at all polling locations in November. Poll watchers trained by ALGOP staff will also be watching to ensure that Alabama's election laws—including the new photo voter ID law—are not being violated. Our signs and poll watchers will send a clear message to those wishing to commit voter fraud. Anyone attempting to tamper with the election process will be caught and will be prosecuted.

The campaign is reminiscent of the controversial "ballot integrity" initiatives that cropped up around the same time as the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which banned discriminatory voting practices such as poll taxes and literacy tests. Under a program called Operation Eagle Eye, the Republican National Committee recruited tens of thousands of volunteers to patrol polling places in heavily Democratic neighborhoods. The ostensible goal was to deter voter fraud, but some of their techniques seemed designed to intimidate voters. Poll watchers were encouraged to snap photos of people casting ballots and enlist Republican-friendly sheriffs to help block voters whom the party had deemed ineligible. In Alabama, the GOP also offered rewards for tips leading to arrests and convictions for breaking certain election laws.

Fri Apr. 25, 2014 1:42 PM EDT