Vote early and often

There’s a far better way to get into politics than simply delivering bundles of contributions – and that’s delivering the votes themselves. In a best of east meets west type story, a young desi precinct captain has been accused of facilitating the absentee votes of some older brownz to the benefit of Alderman Bernard Stone. [Thanks Taz!]

The legion of doom?

A ward superintendent handpicked by the City Council’s 80-year-old elder statesman, Ald. Bernard Stone (50th), was arrested Monday and charged–along with another man–with improperly steering primarily Indian and Pakistani voters toward absentee ballots for Stone.

Anish Eapen, a 37-year-old employee of the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, “would target different people–primarily Indian and Pakistani voters–and suggest that they take absentee ballots. They would give them reasons why they should be taking absentee ballots–not necessarily valid reasons. They would be present when they filled out the application for the absentee ballot and, in some instances, they would bring the absentee ballot back to the people to vote.” [Link]

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p>This, by the way, is utter genius. It’s like a supervillain team-up cooked up by some stoned teenagers. What would happen if we took the democratic cultures best at cooking elections, and combined them in a superteam? Oooooh, ooooh, and we did it at the same time as laws were making fraud easier around the country!

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p>You see – while in-person voting has become harder to do, squeezing out the elderly and the poor who might not have drivers licenses, absentee balloting has become easier and more common, even though it is the source of much more fraud.

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p>This is from an op-ed written five years ago in that leftist rag, the Wall Street journal:

Making voting easy is desirable, but only if legitimate voters don’t have their civil right cancelled out by those who shouldn’t vote. In 1980, only about 5% of voters nationwide cast absentee or early ballots. Now nearly 20% do. “Absentee voting is the preferred choice of those who commit voter fraud,” says Larry Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia…Eric Mountain of the Dallas County district attorney’s office says some campaigns have paid vote brokers $10 to $15 a ballot. Many seniors are visited at home and persuaded to have someone mark an absentee ballot for them. Others have absentee ballots stolen from their mailboxes. [Link]

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p>Laws since this op-ed piece have moved to combat vote fraud, but only in-person vote fraud. In 2006, GA passed a law (that was later struck down) demanding a photo ID from all in-person voters:

Perdue and other proponents of the law said it is needed to curtail fraud. They cited an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article that said 5,000 dead people were listed as having voted in the eight elections preceding 2000. But the fraud happened primarily in absentee balloting, Barnes said. Under the new law, absentee voters are not required to show identification. [Link]

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So why don’t legislators concerned with voter fraud try to make absentee voting more secure? It might have something to do with the fact that these are largely Republican legislators and absentee ballots favor many Republican groups while those discouraged from in-person voting by restrictions are traditional democratic voters. I honestly can’t think of another reason why the legislative response to growing absentee voter fraud is to make other forms of voting harder while doing nothing about fraudulent absentee ballots. It just doesn’t make sense unless you factor partisanship into it.

19 thoughts on “Vote early and often

  1. would absentee ballots be a good counter to the purportedly rigged Diebold electronic voting machines?

  2. Ok no election method is fraud proof imo, just check out that docu about Diebold systems. In Calif it is not called absentee ballot anymore, mail in ballot is the right term. And CA is one of the few states that gives this no fault option, where anyone can choose it without having to give a reason. Guess what- it is easy to use, leaves a paper trail and I can check my vote status online. People who may not have gone to vote may vote through mail. In a SJMN article recently they said 70% of mail in ballots are returned so that is a huge chunk who will vote considering the number of eligible voters who will stay away. Also OR is a vote by mail state and I wonder how easy fraud is there? There may be a new job opportunity for desis here. Can we get some bhaiyyas from Bihar for efficient and cost effective booth capturing? The Rethuglicans would love it.

  3. During the special elections last November this is what happened in my neck of the woods. Although in this case the official had fair intentions and there were witnesses to the deed, do we really know how often this can or has already happened?

    I am a county precinct worker for the Democratic Party and have participated in two elections after the e-slate was introduced. I have not so far seen anything untoward. But I go home as soon as the final tally is matched. I have no idea what happens after the doors close.

    The absentee ballot sounds like a good idea although it takes away from the excitement of voting in public. The scope of abuse is limited and offenders may actually get caught.

  4. The problem with absentee ballots is that they can be bought. Somebody brings you one that is filled out, has you sign it, and sends it back in for you. It’s the one way in America that you can reliably buy somebody’s vote. This is why I oppose them. I think that any early voting should take place in a designated polling place with a secret ballot.

  5. The aldermen acknowledged that his campaign aggressively sought voters who were qualified to vote absentee in a heated race against Naisy Dolar. [Link]

    Apparently, Eapen used this line on Indian and Pakistani voters: “Would you like one Dolar or fifteen dollars?”

  6. I am a huge proponent of Vote by Mail. Here in Orange County, where materials are provided in Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Veitnamese and English, the absentee ballots come in the mail in language. For the LEP community, this is a great convenience – they are able to take the time to sit, and read and fill out the ballot at their own time. In fact, over 70% of the Vietnamese American community here in Orange County vote by absentee. The county has taken enormous measure to support a shift to Vote By Mail. In California you can sign up to be a Permanent Vote by Mail voter and get ballots sent regularly to the mail.

    The problem here was that these kids manipulated the vote of the people turning in the absentee forms. I would imagine they collected the absentee forms from the uncles and aunties and manipulated the answers. BUT if you have an vote by mail ballot – you don’t have to put it in the mail box – you can hang on to it and turn it in to your polling place. And avoid fraud.

    Vote by mail should not be discouraged. Studies show it has a higher rate of turnout then turning up on election day does. The state of Oregon does there voting for the entire state ONLY using Vote By Mail.

    The problem with absentee ballots is that they can be bought.

    As we saw from the Vegas caucuses, it’s not JUST absentee ballots that can be bought – any kind of vote can be bought. But this does not mean we limit the choices for the voters in how they vote – we merely work harder to make sure people buying the votes get in trouble.

  7. My first year of undergrad was when we were voting for the 2000 presidential election. It was nearly all of us first-year students’ first times voting. We weren’t able to transfer our registration to the university state because we weren’t considered residents.

    Long story short, a lot of us got our absentee ballots at about the same time, and we filled them out together, discussing the candidates as we went.

    The real question here is, barring absentee ballots, what could we have done instead? Traveled all the way back to our parents’ homes to vote? Mine was, at the time, a bit too far for easy travel, and I wasn’t the only one.

    Ennis, could a system of absentee-style voting be implemented in which the person could go and vote on the election day in a state in which they weren’t registered, but use a ballot that would considered an absentee ballot for the state in which they were registered?

    That’s pretty complicated but seems more likely to attract voters than an early voting system (unless it were a system extremely well-publicized). In general we’re a country that likes to put things off until the last minute, after all (e.g. taxes). So there needs to be an easy way for voters to vote, even if they’re out of their registration area, without relying on unsecure absentee ballots, and without presuming that they’ll have enough forethought to vote beforehand.

  8. Vote by mail should not be discouraged.

    There’s no safeguard in the process against fraud though, and for somebody who wants to buy a vote, it’s the only reliable way for them to do so.

    Sure, you can pay in person voters, but outside of caucusses secret ballots prevent anybody from knowing if the voter actually did what they were told.

    Basically, the most important thing about a ballot, to me, is that it has to be secret. Vote by mail or any other form of balloting is an open invitation to fraud because it is not secret at all.

    So what should we do about immigrants? Have translated ballots, use images, and create voting centers close to their homes. But don’t throw the process wide open.

  9. Let me make a stronger statement against vote-by-mail. I think that any form of voting that does not guarantee the secrecy of the ballot is an open invitation to vote buying.

    Saying that the only problem in this case was that these guys manipulated the process ignores the fact that the process begs to be manipulated. We don’t leave bank vaults open and then blame the people who walk in and steal money. I doubt Taz leaves her life savings lying out on the sidewalk.

    Ballots should be secret, which means that certain measures have to be taken to guarantee the integrity of the process. If this is inconvenient, we should try to make it more convenient, but in the final analysis the secrecy of the ballot trumps all other considerations.

    A convenient vote isn’t worth much of local bosses are leaning on you to vote the way they want. It’s exactly the poor and immigrant who will be most easily defrauded of their franchise. If you want to protect them from coercion and suasion, make almost all balloting in person, and impose verification procedures on vote by mail.

  10. We weren’t able to transfer our registration to the university state because we weren’t considered residents.

    You were misinformed. The law changed some time in the late 80s or early 90s – students are automatically considered residents for the basis of any federal election. By the time I was a college student voting, that provision was in full force.

  11. If you want to protect them from coercion and suasion, make almost all balloting in person

    Right, because coercion, voter suppression, and fraud doesn’t happen at the ballot box. !?!??!

  12. Right, because coercion, voter suppression, and fraud doesn’t happen at the ballot box.

    It’s much harder for somebody to coerce or buy your vote once it is secret. In many third world countries, the opposition tells voters to take the government’s money and then vote however they want. That’s the whole reason why we instituted the secret ballot in America, to protect the rights of those with less social power. That’s the reason why I am so adamant that secrecy not be compromised. If a vote is to mean anything, it must be secret. And yes, that means I think the caucuses are shameful and undemocratic.

    How else to we protect low wage voters from having their bosses tell them that if they don’t vote the way they want, they’ll be fired? How else do we protect immigrants from having their votes stolen by machine bosses?

    Educate people, make the ballots available in multiple languages, perhaps even make early voting available. But the actual act of voting must be secret and secure if we are to protect any meaningful franchise and therefore the integrity of the whole process.

    The vast majority of documented vote fraud has been through vote-by-mail. Yes, I want people to vote, but I want them to vote freely, without coercion, in a meaningful way.

    p.s. almost all naturalized immigrants have to pass a language exam to become citizens (the exception is people who have been here for more than 25 years). That means that almost all immigrants can read english, and for those who cannot, I think that bilingual ballots and clear symbols should be available.

  13. You were misinformed.

    No, just ignorant. ^__^ I, at least, just assumed I wasn’t able to change my registration. To be fair, no one told me otherwise.

  14. These 2 guys should work for the New England Patriots, they would fit in great there, cause cheating is away of life there.

  15. I agree with Ennis, there is just no way to safeguard a ballot mailed to a home. In a secret ballot, you can try to buy a vote all you want, but only the voter knows what lever he pulled/button he pushed/chad he plucked etc… Mail that sucker home, and the buyer’s gonna get his confirmation. absentee ballots = win for political machines

  16. 16 · Clueless said

    These 2 guys should work for the New England Patriots, they would fit in great there, cause cheating is away of life there.

    The sad part is, all the teams cheat — in one way or another. When you pretend you made a catch, you’re cheating. When you take steroids, you’re cheating. When you fudge the injury reports, you’re cheating.

    All the teams cheat. The Patriots just happen to be World Champions at it.

  17. i dont get why it is soo funny? Trying to make a joke out of it…there are people who dont find it easy!!! some these lame comments are sooo lame!!!!!! what are u trying to disgrace desi people?????? and what proof do these dumb people have that he actually did it???