Democratic National Chairman Charles T. Manatt yesterday charged that the Republican Party has revived voter-intimidation tactics in an effort to "frighten people away from polls" on Election Day, especially minorities and the poor who are likely to vote against GOP candidates.
Speaking to a National Press Club luncheon, Manatt said that Republican Party Chairman Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., in an Oct. 9 letter to secretaries of state, had offered "a $5,000 bounty" for "voter fraud" information. Manatt compared this action to past GOP efforts to intimidate voters, such as posting signs in black and Hispanic precincts of Texas and New Jersey in 1981 and 1982 that warned in large type, "YOU CAN BE IMPRISONED," above a list of various types of voter fraud.
In the New Jersey case, the Democrats went to court and won a consent decree halting such activities there, Manatt noted.
To prevent such occurrences this year, he said, the DNC will operate an "election hotline" starting Thursday and running through Election Day. The number is (202) 797-6618.
William Greener, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, dismissed Manatt's charges as "political grandstanding" and said, "All we're encouraging is an honest election."
In a letter to Manatt dated yesterday, Fahrenkopf responded that any effort to intimidate voters is "reprehensible." But he asked, "Where was your outrage" when voter fraud occurred in Cook County, Ill.
Manatt also made the following predictions for the Nov. 6 elections:
Democrats will hold 35 of the 50 governor's seats and 71 of the 99 state legislatures.
They will retain control of the House, with a change of five to 10 seats in either direction.
In the Senate, Democrats will gain three to seven new seats, with the best bets in Tennessee, North Carolina and Iowa.
As for the national ticket's prospects, Manatt quoted former president Harry S Truman, "Public opinion polls don't vote."