Thursday, January 17, 2008

Voting on the Strip

I've been looking at the Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union this as the Nevada caucuses and was impressed with their ability to organize a voting in some of the major casinos on the Strip this Saturday. But now that's being challenged by another union, Nevada equivalent to WEAC:

Last Monday the leaders of another big union, the Nevada State Education Association, filed a lawsuit questioning the legitimacy of the new caucus sites. A US District Court judge is due to rule on the lawsuit Thursday morning. The case is being watched around the country as debates about voter access unfold. The plaintiffs have asked why Strip workers should be helped to caucus easily near their jobs when others will not get the same special access. In sotto voice, there have also been worries expressed about voting by illegal immigrants. Election officials say identification will be required to participate.

Politics and race are at the heart of this dispute. The 60,000-strong Culinary Workers’ Union, which has a large number of Latino members, has endorsed Barack Obama (he also won an endorsement today from the Las Vegas Review-Journal). The leaders of the education association back Hillary Clinton. Yet after the lawsuit was filed, some members of the education group—including kindergarten and primary school teachers—sent an open letter to its president saying they were “deeply dismayed” at efforts to stop the parents of their students from caucusing. They called the suit “discriminatory” against low-income and minority people.

The suit may be dismissed simply on the grounds that it was filed too near the caucus date, but it has inflamed tensions ahead of the upcoming vote here.

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