If you aren’t aware of the direct marketing junk mail campaign term “Caging” — and its relationship to “Voter Caging” and the stolen 2000 and 2004 presidential elections in the United States — you are not alone.

You were failed by the mainstream media as “tens of thousands” of minority votes were caged in the 2004 presidential election in Florida — 35 students at a traditionally Black college in Jacksonville alone — as well as the caging of over 35,000 voters in Ohio and many more in other states. Republicans challenged the legitimacy of Black voters via a junk email scam. Here’s how it worked:

Vote caging is an illegal trick to suppress minority voters (who tend to vote Democrat) by getting them knocked off the voter rolls if they fail to answer registered mail sent to homes they aren’t living at (because they are, say, at college or at war). The Republican National Committee reportedly stopped the practice following a consent decree in a 1986 case. … [In 2004] The Bush-Cheney operatives sent hundreds of thousands of letters marked “Do not forward” to voters’ homes.

Letters returned (“caged”) were used as evidence to block these voters’ right to cast a ballot on grounds they were registered at phony addresses. Who were the evil fakers? Homeless men, students on vacation and–you got to love this–American soldiers. Oh yeah: most of them are Black voters. Why weren’t these African-American voters home when the Republican letters arrived? The homeless men were on park benches, the students were on vacation–and the soldiers were overseas.

The insidious effect of Voter Caging is the nullification of a Black vote. People who were caged are “challenged” at the polling place if they try to vote. They are basically accused of voter fraud and faking their address and their votes are “set aside” for further investigation in a court challenge long after the election has been effectively decided.

The “Do not forward” marking was especially mendacious because even if the person in question had moved or had changed legal their legal address, they’d never receive the junk mail at their new address and would effectively be blocked in a vote challenge. Greg Palast is the American investigative journalist who is the King of Voter Caging exposure and he has been working mainly with the BBC, not the mainstream USA media, in revealing this voter repression scheme:

Tim Griffin, formerly right hand man to Karl Rove, resigned Thursday as US Attorney for Arkansas hours after BBC Television ‘Newsnight’ reported that Congressman John Conyers requested the network’s evidence on Griffin’s involvement ‘caging voters.’ Greg Palast, reporting for BBC Newsnight, obtained a series of confidential emails from the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign. In these emails, Griffin, then the GOP Deputy Communications Director, transmitted so-called ‘caging lists’ of voters to state party leaders. Experts have concluded the caging lists were designed for a mass challenge of voters’ right to cast ballots.

The caging lists were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas. … In the email dated February 5 of this year, Griffin stated that the purpose of ‘caging’ was to identify “fraudulent” voters. This contradicts one explanation of the Bush campaign to BBC that the lists were of potential donors and not in any way created to challenge voters. Griffin confidentially wrote: “The real story is this: There were thousands of reported illegal/fake voter registrations around the country, so some of the Republican State Parties mailed letters welcoming new voters to the newly registered voters. … The Republican State Parties ultimately wanted to show that thousands of fraudulent registrations had been completed.”

Here’s a telling Voter Caging report on PBS’ NOW that includes an interview with Palast. Where does Voter Cage Outrage lead us? How far have we disintegrated as a democracy? Will a concentrated and sustained urge by Republicans to repress Black votes continue every two years even though it violates federal election laws by seeking nullify votes based on Race? With Tim Griffin finished in Arkansas, it appears he has already firmly landed on his feet as a leading advisor for Senator Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign.


  1. The disturbing aspect is the consent decree in 1986. This was done before and was punished.

  2. Karvain!
    You’re back! How was your trip?
    Yes, it was done before and tried again. There is no respect for the law from those who continue to break it.

  3. I was overseas for several months and unable to find an internet connection I could pay for. In 2004 some precincts went to court to use the cages and were laughed at. So they stopped asking for permission and kept doing or they found other ways to punish people like asking for id before they could vote.

  4. It’s great to have you back, karvain! Set up an avatar if you can. 😀
    Asking for ID before voting is not allowed. You give them your name and address and they compare your signature and that’s enough to allow you to vote. The ID thing is another way to repress the poor and minority vote. You don’t need ID to vote!

  5. That’s what illiteracy and not knowing your rights gets you. No democracy and no vote. Republicans count on it. They know bullying works in the precincts.

  6. Most democrat voting efforts are pushed people into vans and busses. They make it a party. You can have fun and drink in exchange for the right vote. Both parties doe it but the demos do better. Repubs are up against the ropes. Old white dudes voting for old white dudes.
    The dems are better shape because they have majority of the minorities but they are ruled by old white dudes too but in 10 years that’ll change and the minorities will be majority. Immigration was the future and the Repubs blew it. Dems just sit back and let it fall.

  7. We’ve talked a lot about the dangers of illiteracy here, karvain, and you make a hard point about its dangers. If you don’t know your voter rights and that you have the ability to stand up to harassment at the polls because you’ve read the law and you know your rights then anyone can threaten you with anything and get away with it. The bad guys rely on your not knowing — or on the fact that many poor and misbegotten minorities in the urban core are disaffected and functionally illiterate to know the difference between right and wrong and fight back.

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