Friday, October 26, 2012

Voter Fraud in Ohio

The History of Voting Fraud. Voting, as we know it, began in Athens, Greece, during the classical age, commencing about 500 C.E. The procedure was to drop a small stone into a jar. The voters (adult married males who had served time in the military) would line up and, one by one, place either a white stone or a black stone into a jar to signify their vote. This first election was pure and direct democracy.

Voter fraud began on the second election. Some voters secreted two or more white stones within the fold of their tunics, having accepted gold drachmas from the candidate's bag man. When the bribed voters reached the jar, they slipped in the extra stones and thereby ensured a victory for their man.

Lesson: Voter fraud was not invented here, it's been going on for centuries.

Voter Fraud in Covington, Tennessee. Your favorite Aunt Denise, a lifelong Presbyterian Sunday School teacher, a wonderful cook, devoted wife, and loving mother, has also been a precinct worker for the past forty years in this small town of less than 5,000 people.
Everyone knows and trusts Aunt Denise. She has never been caught stealing votes, but watch her hand bag -- the copious one you see placed near to her at the registration desk -- somehow "damaged" ballots seem to end up in her hand bag, and somehow she kind of forgets to turn them in at the end of the day. Nothing wholesale, maybe 10 or 20 ballots, but sometimes that makes a difference in a tight race for sheriff.

Lesson: There is no typical vote stealer, it could a be your Aunt Denise.

Counting Votes in Chicago. In April, 1963, I was a junior in the Honors class at Loyola Academy, a Jesuit school for boys in Chicago. Mayor Dailey, the Mayor Dailey, not his son, was up for re-election that year. The general election didn't count because there was no serious Republican opposition, so what mattered was the Democratic primary.

Someone from Dailey's campaign team contacted the Principal of my high school and and said they needed to hire 15-20 students to help count votes on election night. The students in the Honors class were chosen -- some 15 of us -- we took the subway down to City Hall and got in place on the third floor when the polls closed. It was a fabulous experience, cop cars kept pouring in from all over town, each car carrying locked canvas bags stuffed with ballots from outlying precincts.

We carried these locked canvas bags over to huge tables, poured out the contents, and did an initial rough sort. From there we carried bundles to an enormous room, filled with at least a hundred women, each one at her own table with an adding machine, and those women did the actual counting.

We worked from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. in the morning. And then we took the subway home and here's the really cool part -- we got paid $40 each -- as temporary employees of the registrars office. Not only that, we got the next day off of school.

So let's add that up -- a night of fun work in downtown Chicago, getting paid, and getting the next day off of school. All perfectly legal, and a decent reward for being a Honors student. It's not voter fraud, it's just smart politics -- because we all loved the Mayor after that.

Lesson: Voter fraud is no more common in Chicago than elsewhere.

Voter Fraud in Ohio. In 2004, the Ohio Secretary of State was Republican Kenneth Blackwell. He was accused of masterminding every conceivable fraudulent scheme. I can't testify for that, but I am sure of one thing he did that cost the Democrats a few thousand votes. Blackwell sort of mal-distributed the voting machines. If you lived in the suburbs with a reliable Republican majority, then your polling place was generously supplied with machines, and you didn't have to wait in line to vote. Park your car, pick up your ballot, mark your vote, and on your way.

But on election day in November of 2004, there was a cold, hard rain falling all day, and if you lived in Franklinton, one of the inner city neighborhoods, then you had to wait in line, in the rain, clutching for your raincoat and umbrella, for more than an one hour, even two hours. I was there. I saw this. And that was because Blackwell had somehow forgotten to get enough voting machines down to Franklinton. Other campaign staff reported long lines all over downtown Columbus in Democratic precincts.

So that was fraud on Blackwell's part. Was it technically illegal? I couldn't say. But I know it was wrong. Were the Democrats, then or now, involved in any fraudulent activities? Probably. And can the Republicans point their finger at the Democrats? Hell no.

Conclusion. Most people are honest, but there are a few crooks in every crowd.


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