Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote Early, and Often---Not Just in Chicago

The first part of the title of this post has been variously attributed to Al Capone or Richard J. Daley, but it most likely came from an earlier Chicago mayor, William Hale Thompson. The point is, all three of them came from the world of Chicago politics.

And now it looks as though Chicago-style voting is spreading to the rest of the country in this election. Finally, we have some genuine journalism from the media:

Georgia's Secretary of State has launched a full investigation and may seek criminal charges against three Georgia men who appear to have early-voted twice.“This is extraordinarily disturbing," said Secretary of State Karen Handel.A team of investigative journalists from WSB-TV in Atlanta, WFTV in Orlando and WFTS in Tampa and WCPO in Cincinnati compared Georgia's voter rolls with those in Florida and Ohio and found more than 100,000 people who appear to be registered to vote in more than one state, with no government oversight to catch it.
Imagine that! The TV stations had the idea of collaborating across State lines to see whether voter fraud was possibly occurring. And having found it, they are surprised to learn that neither the local nor the federal governments are equipped to prevent it from happening. The instances they uncovered with just a little checking are telling:
WSB-TV Channel 2 tried to find Thomas Habel at the home where he's registered to vote in Hartwell, Georgia, but was unable to locate him.That’s because he was spending time at his other home in Marco Island, Florida. Before he left for the Sunshine State, according Georgia's Secretary of State, Habel early-voted at the Hart County elections office. Chief registrar Elizabeth Forbes says she knows Habel and saw him cast his ballot. She even gave him a sticker. State records confirm Habel voting on October 1, 2008, but Florida records show him voting there on October 25."Oh, then that's not good," said Forbes when she saw both voting records with Habel’s name on them. Contacted at his Florida home Habel admitted voting in Florida at the Marco Island library, but says he doesn't recall voting in Georgia. "Somebody would remember if they voted twice,” Habel insisted. “I went and got a ballot for my wife she called me and said she forgot to vote, she was down there and I went in there and I signed for it." The registrar confirms Habel did that, too. His wife has already mailed in her Georgia absentee vote.

A check of Georgia's master voter rolls revealed more than 42,000 people who also appear to be registered in Florida. WSB-TV Channel 2 found three who appear to have double voted, which is a felony.
And what does another double-registered voter have to say? (Hint: think Casablanca.)
"Shocking, it's really shocking,” said voter Kelley Johnson. “I wouldn't think to do something like that." But Johnson could vote in two states. The college student has an absentee ballot from DeKalb County, even though she voted in Daytona Beach, Florida. "Two days after I voted, my absentee ballot came in the mail,” explained Johnson. “I was just shocked, it had my little sticker, ‘I'm a Georgia voter’ on there."
Another voter swears she is too conscientious to exploit the situation---she just wanted to vote in a State where her ballot would actually count:
WSB-TV Channel 2 found eight people who voted in Florida and received absentee ballots from Georgia. Another three voters who cast ballots in Ohio could have voted in Georgia. "Because Ohio's a swing state, I'm not from here, I'm from Atlanta, so I re-registered in Ohio so we could possibly have a chance," admitted Lauren Arnone. Arnone received her Cobb County ballot by mail, but vowed not to use it, even though she could. "Something should be fixed about this because this can sway an election," said Arnone.
Really, do you think so, Lauren? Well, listen to what officials say: they can do nothing about it if it's not brought to their attention. Here is Georgia's Secretary of State:
Georgia Secretary of State Handel agrees. "Does our system just trust that people won't vote twice?” asked Handel. “From the federal level, yes pretty much." There is no federal database to track voter registration and no laws obligating voters to notify their old state when they register in a new one. “It's an extremely high potential for (voter fraud),” said Handel. But she said right now the states have no capacity to compare their lists. "You vote where you live,” said Handel. “You don't get to pick and choose based on what is a battleground state, so that's very disturbing and we will be looking at every single name on that list."

Thanks to the genuine efforts of the media, the Secretaries of State in Georgia, Florida and Ohio are now on the case:

"It's very easy isn't it? You could potentially vote in, if we had worked it we could have voted in many places many times probably," said Aaron Bashore, who received two ballots. People who simply got ballots in both places have not committed a crime, but Handel says voters like Tom Habel should beware. "Anyone who votes twice is undermining the core of our democratic process that is serious and we will pursue this to the fullest extent," said Handel.

For the larger list of 112,000 voters, WSB-TV Channel 2 was only able to verify their first, middle and last name and dates of birth; some of them could turn out to be different people with the exact same information. The Secretaries of State can match them by social security number and if they wait until after the election, they will have a complete list of how many of them voted and how many times.
This has the potential of becoming a much bigger story. It is the direct consequence of the recent tendency to stretch out the voting period, which allows "early voting" in some States up to forty-five days before Election Day. It will be noteworthy to see whether TV stations and news media in other States pick up on this and begin to do their jobs, instead of just being echo chambers. Chicago, we're on to you! (The fact we're onto them doesn't cut any mustard with the major media, however. For an example of a CNN reporter exposing in a live interview the voting fraud that occurred in Philadelphia and then condoning it with an incredible "That's OK," be sure to see this video.)

Meanwhile, don't join the "silent majority"---which means, regardless of what you may read, see, or hear in the media in the next few hours until all the polls close, go and vote!


  1. We really do have a sloppy system that leaves huge openings for fraud. And efforts to confront voter fraud are treated as "voter suppression".

    This doesn't seem as bad, but I know that people who were students in Boulder Colorado and have graduated and now live in other states have kept their voting addresses with friends still living in Boulder so their votes will "count".

  2. Ah yes! Let's make our votes count! Why could I not have voted in Pennsylvania, since my home state was really solid for McCain? That would have made my vote count!

    The rationalizations of some people is just astounding. Especially when they are caught.