10 Dirty Ways to Swing an Election - 2012-11-01
Voter caging is the process of sending mail to the addresses of registered voters with the intent of challenging their votes if the mail goes undelivered and the voter still shows up at the polls. It still happens, but the most famous instance occurred in 1981, when Republicans sent thousands of letters to black and Latino voters in New Jersey, hoping to block as many as possible of these likely Democratic voters from voting. As a result of that stunt, the Republican National Committee entered into a consent decree with the Democratic National Committee agreeing not to engage in voter caging unless a court says it's okay. They leave it to third-party conservative groups now.
Dropping flyers with erroneous or deceptive information about voting may not be effective, according to voting law expert Rick Hasen, but it certainly happens a lot. Flyers in Virginia in 2008 told Democrats to vote on the wrong day, while flyers distributed in black neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2004 told residents they couldn't vote if anyone in their family had been convicted of a crime. Dirty tricksters are getting with the times, however—the 2008 election saw erreoneous election information distributed through emails to students at George Mason University. "Those things are very hard to investigate," says Penda D. Hair, co-director of the voting rights group the Advancement Project. "They're usually anonymous, so we don't have good data on what the impact is on people."