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The GOP’s voter suppression tactics have gone full Looney Toons

The GOP's voter suppression tactics have gone full Looney Toons


Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From cartoonish voter…
A newsletter by LEVEL
October 20, 2020  •  6 min read  •  View in browser

The GOP's voter suppression tactics have gone full Looney Toons

Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From cartoonish voter suppression tactics to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it's everything you need and nothing you don't. If you're loving what you're reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.

For some, Autumn represents cool weather, pumpkin spice things, football, and the beginnings of getting your cuffing season roster in order. But every four years, when presidential elections take place and February gets an extra day, the fall means it's voter suppression SZN for the GOP. And this election cycle, the Republicans seem to be pulling out all the stops.

In the traditionally red state of Texas — which these days resembles the purple sizzurp for which its biggest city is known — its governor decided to give each county a single ballot drop-off location. Lines for early voting in Black areas of Georgia are longer than Roots. And last but not least, Virginia fell victim to a random, totally happenstance malfunction after a fiber-optics cord was totally accidentally, oopsie-daisy cut, causing its voter registration site to crash on the last day of eligibility. What a clumsy mistake that probably had nothing to do with intentional, continued voter suppression!

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But let's just say, hypothetically speaking, that the cord-cutting was perchance intentional by some voter-suppressing agent of anti-democracy? Then mannnn, that would be one hell of a bottom-of-the-barrel attempt. They're really out here like cartoon villains trying to ruin the election? This is what it's come down to? At this rate, you never know what downright diabolical hijinks to expect as Election Day nears. Keep your eyes peeled and head on a swivel for these acts of voter suppression that the Good Ol' Party likely has up its sleeve.

1. Painting a tunnel opening onto a brick wall, with a POLLING LOCATION sign on top.

2. Dropping an anvil on every drop-off ballot box in the country.

3. Slingshotting QAnon members via giant rubber bands so they can swipe voting machines without anyone noticing.

4. Replacing all the signs that say VOTE NOW with DUCK SEASON.

5. Tying absentee voting drop-off boxes to Acme rockets and firing them into the sky.

6. Pouring super glue on the ground so everyone in line to vote gets stuck.

7. Offering hand sanitizer at voting location entryways. This one actually doesn't sound so bad — until would-be voters realize it's actually a potion that turns them into giants who can no longer fit inside.

8. Dropping truckloads of tacks in the vicinity of blue voter blocs, which punctures car tires and prevents voters from reaching their polling locations.

9. Rigging voting machines so that every time someone pulls the level, a grand piano falls onto their heads.

10. Placing rope on the ground so when you walk up to vote, the rope catches your foot and catapults you to another jurisdiction.

11. Using a saw to cut a polling place so that it falls off the face of the earth. (Ironically, the rest of the city descends into the abyss like a reverse Age of Ultron, leaving just the polling place standing and scientists confounded.)

— David Dennis Jr., senior staff writer

This Week In Racism

🗑 New York's Court System Still As Racist As It Was Three Decades Ago

That's not a guesstimate, people. In 1991, an investigating commission said that "there are two justice systems at work in the courts of New York State, one for Whites, and a very different one for minorities and the poor." Now, 29 years later, an entirely new investigation has come to entirely the same conclusion. The independent report, which was commissioned in June and published last week, found that the state's court system is riddled with bias and racism at every level, from court officers all the way up to judges. Whether Black and Latinx attorneys not being believed by White judges or court officers using racial slurs and handcuffing Black defendants during court appearances for minor matters — not to mention the time-honored tradition of racist-ass Facebook posts — the whole thing feels utterly unsurprising. So one more time, and with feeling: avoid the bookings, beloveds. (New York Times)

🗑 Didja Hear the One About the Actual Literal Nazi Who Became a Cop?

Meet Joseph Zacharek. Living in Indiana, Zacharek's just your average 27-year-old Army vet who's here to drink a few beers and meet some nice ladies. Wait, no, sorry, we misread his old forum posts on the notorious neo-Nazi message board Iron March: He's actually "fully NatSoc" (National Socialist, aka Nazi) who's here for "higher level fascist discourse." What a catch! After taking part in some of that discourse, Zacharek got hired by the Lafayette Police Department in June — at least until he got outed last week and promptly fired. Two things, though. First is the LPD chief's statement, which included the sentence "Officer Zacharek's comments were not in harmony with the spirit of cooperation and inclusion in the community that the Lafayette Police Department values." NOT IN HARMONY WITH THE SPIRIT OF COOPERATION AND INCLUSION? That's how you describe someone who talks about "the diseased culture of blacks"? Oh, and also, second: don't think Zacharek is alone. As The Center for Investigative Reporting has uncovered, hundreds of law enforcement officers are members of hate groups or anti-government militias. This is a real thing. (NBC News)

🗑 Wait, Is Indiana Becoming the New Florida?

It seems that Joseph Zacharek isn't exactly the end of racist news coming out of the Hoosier State. Jeannine Lee Lake, a Black woman who's running for Congress against Mike Pence's brother Greg, says she's been on the receiving end of racist phone messages and vandalism ever since a county GOP group put her contact information on Facebook. While Pence himself (Greg, not Mike) has denied any involvement, it's worth noting that he's not exactly an anti-racist out in these streets: an antique shop he owns sells caricaturish objects like "mammy" cookie jars and a coin bank that…let's just say it features a watermelon. So watch it, Indiana: you may have given us the Jacksons, Freddie Gibbs, and David Letterman, but you're one racist incident away from going full Panhandle. (ABC News)

The LEVEL Up: Culture Picks From the Editors

🎶 Benny The Butcher, Burden of Proof

The youngest gun of the Griselda gang, Benny comes out firing on all cylinders on his sophomore studio album, which plays like a Roc-A-Fella era classic. Atop production by the year's best beatmaker in Hit-Boy, the 35-year-old MC spits street tales and newfound-fame flexes alongside heavyweights like Rick Ross, Big Sean, and Freddie Gibbs. Special appearances by Pain in Da Ass and The Madd Rapper are an added bonus for '90s heads eager to restore the feeling. (Spotify)

📖 Reclaiming Her Time: The Power of Maxine Waters

With a simple three-word phrase delivered in a high-stakes Congressional hearing, Maxine Waters became immortalized as a meme and a forever mood. But the California politician's life of service is larger than that moment. In this fun, partially illustrated celebration of our favorite auntie's legacy, Helena Andrews-Dyer and R. Eric Thomas tell the story of Trump's sharpest opponent, with commentary from her friends and fans. She deserves every one of these flowers. (HarperCollins)

🎧 The First One

DJ Khaled's special cloth talk finally has a home. How it's taken this long for him to land his own podcast is anyone's guess, but this weekly Amazon Music interview series pairs the owner of music's most diesel rolodex with some of the biggest stars in the game every Thursday. Episode one kicked off with Lil Wayne discussing his legendary career; future guests include J Balvin, Kelly Rowland, Jon Bon Jovi, and Fat Joe. Don't play yourself. Tune in. (Amazon Music)

LEVEL Read of the Week

The Story Behind the Most Epic Million Man March Photo You've Never Seen

Where were you when the Million Man March descended on Washington, D.C. 25 years ago, in a massive show of activism for Black Americans? Will Smith, Jazzy Jeff, Alfonso Ribeiro, Puff Daddy, and all three members of Bell Biv DeVoe were together, right there on the National Mall, frozen in time in an epic photo. While there's never been an official count of attendees at that historic demonstration, we can assure you that this picture is worth at least a thousand words. Read the story.

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