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Saratoga GOP Can’t Scare Us Away

To the Editor:

The continued, organized assault on the voting rights of Skidmore students by Republican operatives reached a new low this past election, and crossed the line between dirty politics (e.g., lying about water and sales tax) and outright aggression [“An Education in Intimidation,” Newsfront, Nov. 13].

Republican poll watchers created chaos in the polling place, and systematically intimidated Democratic, Green and independent voters. Many voters turned away out of fear rather than complete the voting process.

One Republican poll watcher, Matt Dill, a volunteer for Lenz, confronted voters as they entered the building and challenged them even before they could walk into the room.

Numerous Republican poll watchers crowded the polling place and challenged the residency of students, forcing them to sign an oath before voting. When they were presented with the oath, Mr. Dill said, “If you fill that out incorrectly, the district attorney can prosecute you on a felony charge.” He then threatened them with possible incarceration and/or expulsion from college.

Another Republican poll watcher, David Bronner, threatened physical harm to a Democratic poll watcher, and Jasper Nolan, the Republican County Chairman, was observed shaking his finger in students’ faces and raising his voice.

One was so brazen as to brag in front of a reporter that “he successfully encouraged ‘one or two’ to leave without voting” (Saratogian, Nov. 5). This was a startling (and foolish) admission of his intent to intimidate voters.

Such election tactics are clearly undemocratic and un-American, and probably illegal as well. Their tactics remind me of fascism, and of racist efforts to disenfranchise blacks in the South.

Their behaviors are also reminiscent of Republican efforts to suppress black votes in the Florida presidential election, and of Congressman Sweeney’s aggressive tactics to “shut down” the recount in Miami. In fact, the Republican organizer brought to Saratoga, Brendan Quinn, helped organize the Republicans in Florida. When confronted by a city official on using Florida-style intimidation tactics here, Quinn responded, “It worked, didn’t it?”

I think most voters (including Republicans) don’t want that level of partisanship in our city; don’t want paid operatives brought in from out of town to intimidate voters, be they students, blacks, Jews, seniors, or any other category.

They tried to steal this election, and perhaps they succeeded. Their actions have left a stain on Lenz, on the other Republican candidates, on the Republican committees, and on Roohan and Nolan, their chairmen.

Why are the Republican bosses and activists getting so nasty? Because they are desperate. One, Democrats are competitive in spite of the Republican registration advantage; we are right on the issues and they are wrong; they represent the moneyed interests and the county’s, not the city’s; and two, the demographics of the city are changing. The percentage of Republican voters has been declining for years. They have to cheat to win.

We Democrats will not sink to their level. We will continue to follow our values of freedom and democracy. We will continue to focus on what’s good for the city. We will legally confront their aggression, whether they employ dirty politics or illegal intimidation in order to keep their political machine in power. In the future we will just have to win by enough votes to overcome their lies and intimidation.

My uncles fought in WWII to fight fascism. I am appalled at what’s happening right here in our city. But, as I was reminded this past Veteran’s Day, freedom is not free; it has to be fought for again and again.

And shame on the Saratogian for downplaying such tactics—weeks later, their editorials haven’t even mentioned Skidmore.

Rob Davis
Saratoga Springs

Quotes From the Underground

To the Editor:

An even bigger hello and thanks to Shawn Stone for getting the word out on 20 Pages of Funk magazine [Art Murmur, Jan. 15]. However it’s too bad he quoted only a few words from one of our 20 pages. Toby Silverman’s words may seem controversial, yet his quote reflects the frustration that he as a house music DJ felt in Albany prior to forming 20 Pages of Funk magazine. This so-called “DJ declaration of war” was more of an invitation to our staff of six to come together and expand the focus of the Albany area nightlife and events. As we worked together on the recently released first issue we evolved into a publication whose mission is to inspire enthusiasm for electronic music and art culture that’s underground and off the radar of mainstream exposure. This includes electronic music and bands, hiphop, reggae, DJs and all art that reflects independent and progressive thought. Albany lies in the crossroads of three major cites and has an experienced and eclectic population. There is a cosmopolitan energy here that craves cultural stimulation, and 20PoF is in the house! If Mr. Stone would have read further he would find articles on tango, MASS MoCA, Redbull Flugtag, fashion . . . hardly a lineup for a “DJ declaration of war” on culture. We’d prefer to call it “Shock and Awe-bany,” it’s just more funky!

Christa Dijstelbergen
CFO, 20 Pages of Funk

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
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