More election tricks in Florida:
State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.
The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.
Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may continue right through the presidential election.
"We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and then we concluded that there was enough evidence to follow through with a full criminal investigation," said Geo Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement.
The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.
I asked Mr. Morales in a telephone conversation to tell me what criminal activity had taken place.
"I can't talk about that," he said.
I asked if all the people interrogated were black.
"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.
Picking on Hippies:
The FBI has been questioning political demonstrators across the United States, and in rare cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to forestall what officials say could be violent and disruptive protests at the Republican National Convention in New York. FBI officials are urging agents to canvass their communities for information about planned disruptions aimed at the convention and other coming political events, and they say they have developed a list of people who they think may have information about possible violence.
They say the inquiries, which began last month before the Democratic convention in Boston, are focused solely on possible crimes, not dissent, at major political events. But some people contacted by the FBI say that they are mystified by the bureau's interest and that they felt harassed by questions about their political plans. "The message
I took from it," said Sarah Bardwell, 21, an intern with a Denver antiwar group, who was visited by six investigators a few weeks ago, "was that they were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know that 'hey, we're watching you."