Absentee ballots and campaign shakedowns in Miami

So, I confess, I had to look up who Luther Campbell was, aside from a guy who came in fourth in a race for county mayor in Miami-Dade County. He was a somewhat high-profile music promoter, fronting for groups like 2 Live Crew. But it is his electoral experience, as described in his column in the Miami New Times, that draws our attention today. He describes some of the more ugly experiences that someone like him has when trying to put together a campaign in Miami and the strange offers he gets:

The only way to get that many absentee ballots is by hiring brokers who charge candidates thousands of dollars to deliver bundles to the county elections department. The brokers are the ones responsible for dead people voting in the ’80s and ’90s. Now they go around strong-arming the elderly residents at assisted living facilities or fooling them with free breakfast at the local IHOP. The brokers also pay off preachers so they can set up shop inside houses of worship to sign up absentee voters.

I saw it firsthand when I ran in the recent county mayoral race. One guy, who I won’t name, guaranteed he could deliver thousands of absentee ballots in North Miami and North Miami Beach for $3,000. I took a pass. It showed on Election Day. I had more early and Election Day ballots than absentee votes.

Sure would be neat if he said more about this. We know that this problem isn’t necessarily unique to south Florida, as there were a bunch of arrests in more rural north Florida earlier this month. One wonders if these are the sorts of “manufacturing ballots” stories that former Rep. Artur Davis was talking about in neighboring Alabama.

Fraud in signature collection for Obama and Hillary in 2008

Getting a candidate on the ballot in Indiana is not easy. I know, from first hand experience, that many campaigns struggle to do it. But it now appears that in 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took a short-cut. They just cheated.

It turns out that someone appears to have forged the signature of former Democratic Governor Joe Kernan on the petition to get Barack Obama on the ballot:

Former Gov. Joe Kernan says a signature on a petition to place Barack Obama‘s name on Indiana’s 2008 primary ballot isn’t his, putting him among dozens of dubious signatures found in a newspaper’s investigation.

While that is the appealing headline that gets lots of attention, the more nefarious story is that it happened on a more systematic basis:

The Tribune first reported Sunday that it and the Howey Politics Indiana newsletter had found pages from Clinton and Obama petitions with names and signatures that appear to have been copied by hand from a petition for 2008 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jim Schellinger. The petitions were filed with the Indiana Election Division after the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Office verified individuals’ information on the documents.

Copying pages and pages of names demonstrates a certain level of disregard that is a little hard to imagine. Every time I have seen a campaign doing ballot access, there is relatively continuous oversight as campaigns try to figure out whether they need to spend more money for paid collectors, where they need to engage more volunteers, etc. It is hard for me to imagine how a campaign could be so disengaged from the details that something like this would happen. Especially to two campaigns (and the only ones on the ballot, as I recall). This is important stuff. You don’t just let the local guys do it without oversight.

Especially when the local guys are Chicago and northern Indiana, where there appears to be a pattern of  systemic fraud.  I noted some precinct results from Chicago that got over 100% turnout in previous elections. Both the Alderman and his dad went to prison for misusing their office for personal gain. Chicago is notorious for ongoing problems. And Indiana had one of the most remarkable cases of election fraud in the 2003 East Chicago Democratic mayoral primary in which 32 people plead guilty to varieties of election fraud.

Rhode Island and Voter ID

Today, the New York Times has an editorial attacking so-called voter ID bills. According to Democratic and New York Times (but I repeat myself) mythmaking, voter ID is a racist Republican scheme to stop minorities and Democrats from voting:

Of course the Republicans passing these laws never acknowledge their real purpose, which is to turn away from the polls people who are more likely to vote Democratic, particularly the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. They insist that laws requiring government identification cards to vote are only to protect the sanctity of the ballot from unscrupulous voters.

When I read this piece, I thought I might have missed a discussion of Rhode Island, which might be called an inconvenient truth for the Democratic conspiracy theorists. Let me remind you what happened in Rhode Island. As the Providence Journal noted when the bill passed:

This year, voter-ID legislation was backed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, including two prominent black lawmakers: House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and Sen. Harold M. Metts. Sen. Juan M. Pichardo, the first Latino elected to a Rhode Island Senate seat and the first Dominican-American elected to a state senate seat in the country, also supported it. Fox, Metts and Pichardo are Providence Democrats.

So the Democrat, African-American Speaker of the Rhode Island House, the leading African-American state Senator, and the first Dominican elected state Senator in the country all supported the bill. They are all Democrats.

I wonder what the New York Times explanation of why these Democrats and minority leaders supported a voter ID bill. And I wonder why the Grey Lady didn’t mention this dreaded provision passing in a deep, deep blue state like Rhode Island… Maybe it is just an inconvenient truth?

NY Dem election official indicted for voter fraud

The 2009 primary election in Troy, NY attracted much attention for election shenanigans from Democratic officials who are associated with the Working Families Party. Well, yesterday, a grand jury issued indictments on 116 charges against a Democratic City Councilmember Michael LaPorto and Democratic Election Commissioner Edward McDonough. The Albany Times-Union and the Troy Record have been all over this.

Basically, those two Democratic officials have been indicted of forging absentee ballot applications and then actually voting those people in the Working Families Party primary. Almost everyone who was voted illegally by these officials were poor people living in housing projects. To make clear what this means: Democratic officials stole the right to vote from poor people.

The Troy Record said:

The charges against them surround some 50 voters who were allegedly deprived of their vote in the Sept. 15, 2009 Working Families Party primary election in Troy. Many were residents of the city’s housing projects.

At a press conference later Friday, Special Prosecutor Trey Smith said many of the alleged victims are the county’s “less fortunate.” Many do not speak English well, he said, while one is deaf and can communicate only in sign language.

The Times Union initially broke the story, pointing out that some people were shocked to find that they had voted.

The scandal was exposed by the Times Union in a Sept. 25, 2009 article that quoted a number of voters who were mystified to learn ballots were cast in their name during the primary.

The indictments resulted from an investigation launched in October 2009 by Smith after allegations arose that Democrats were forging voters’ signatures and casting fraudulent primary ballots.

The Times Union points out that the election official who was indicted learned his Democratic corruption at the knee of his father who was the Chair of the Rensselaer County Democratic Party and who went to federal prison for a municipal insurance kickback scheme:

For the McDonoughs, this is the second time in 20 years that a family member has been indicted. McDonough’s father, the late Rensselaer County Democratic Party Chairman Edward F. McDonough Jr., was indicted by a federal grand jury, convicted and sentenced to federal prison in 1994 for a municipal insurance kickback scheme that brought him $637,000.

It has begun in Chicago

Chicago, where I grew up and lived for 26 years, has been the butt of jokes about corruption and election fraud. This behavior has seeped across the border at times into Indiana. For example 31 people were convicted for voter fraud in the 2003 East Chicago (Indiana) Democratic mayoral primary. At the very least, this year the Illinois Democratic Party and election apparatus has become the butt of jokes. Thirty-five counties sent absentee ballots late to military voters, including the county with the largest military vote. (incidentally, Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for Senate is a Navy Reserves vet) The Illinois Democratic Campaign Committee, chaired by Senator Dick Durbin, sent out nearly 1,000,000 absentee ballot applications late, with return addresses to the state party. A similar operation in Bucks County, PA has resulted in all the absentee ballots to be impounded.

As Hans von Spakovsky noted in a 2008 Heritage Foundation research paper, this has sometimes been a good reason. In this paper, von Spakovsky reviewed media reports and court records from the 1982 election and recount. That year incumbent Republican Governor James Thompson was polling at a 15-point lead, but won by only 6,000 votes. Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic candidate alleged voter fraud downstate and filed suit. The FBI investigated those and charges that it occurred in Chicago.

What particularly struck FBI agent Ernest Locker was how routine vote fraud was for the pre cinct captains, election judges, poll watchers, and political party workers he interviewed. They had been taught how to steal votes (and elections) by their predecessors, who had in turn been taught by their predecessors. Based on his investigation, Locker came to believe the claims, hotly debated among historians, that Mayor Daley threw the 1960 presidential election for John Kennedy with massive ballot stuffing in Chicago. This type of voter fraud, stated Locker, “was an accepted way of life in Chicago.”

Von Spakovsky’s quote of the FBI agent is important. If ballot stuffing in Chicago is an “accepted way of life”, it may be happening today. So why do I raise this? Because it could happen again. Like 1982, the Dems started with legal challenges. This time, they have filed FOIA requests with all the county Boards of Elections

Precinct Registered Ballots Cast Gov_D Gov_R Gov_G Dem % TO %
14 280 348 329 5 5 97.05% 124%
33 230 275 251 9 7 94.01% 120%
36 236 282 268 1 4 98.17% 119%
16 316 336 329 2 1 99.10% 106%
21 234 245 229 6 4 95.82% 105%
26 295 308 288 5 5 96.64% 104%

Working with some friends back home in Chicago, I got results from the 2006 election. The table at the right contains some results from Ward 29. Six precincts recorded vote totals with more votes than registered voters. Now, Rod Blagojevich, the incumbent Democratic governor won re-election by 10 points, with another 10 points going to a Green Party candidate, Rich Whitney. (note that Mr. Whitney is a candidate this year also. His case has become somewhat famous for ballots being printed in predominantly African-American precincts with the name “Rich Whitey”)

With 24% more ballots cast than registered voters in the 14th precinct, it is hard to come up with an explanation other than stuffed ballots. At the time of this election, the Alderman was Isaac Carothers. He has since resigned and plead guilty to federal corruption charges. Von Spakovsky summarized the FBI agent as saying, “[t]hey had been taught how to steal votes (and elections) by their predecessors, who had in turn been taught by their predecessors.” In the case of Carothers, he was told to win by his father William Carothers who lost re-election in 1983 and was convicted of federal corruption charges like his son. The senior Mr. Carothers was Alderman of the 28th ward at the time of the 1982 election discussed above.

Hopefully, it will be a short night in Illinois with a clear result. If it doesn’t we may learn things about Chicago that a number of people in Chicago, Springfield, and the White House find uncomfortable.

Did Jan Schakowsky just break the law?

You might recall that in Illinois, it is illegal to “electioneer” inside a polling place. You might recall that this issue came up recently when Michelle Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate and the daughter of a Chicago Democratic Machine precinct captain, discussed with voters inside a polling place why it was important to support Democrats this cycle. Naturally, the Robert Gibbs and the White House didn’t take that seriously.

Well, at an early voting rally in Chicago, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, whose husband is a felon, did the same thing. Watch the video:

Joel Pollak, a friend of mine, is running against her. He schooled Barney Frank in 2009.

Guilty Plea in New Jersey Absentee Ballot Case

In three weeks, the people of New Jersey go to the polls to elect a new Governor, among other offices. A new poll out today shows that the race could be very close, and we could be headed for a recount. This is a clear case in which every vote will count.

Senate Climate Governors

That’s why it is so interesting to note that yesterday Ronald Harris, a Democratic campaign worker from Atlantic City, plead guilty to “third-degree conspiracy to commit absentee ballot fraud,” according to New Jersey Newsroom. Looks like he’s talking too:

In pleading guilty, Harris admitted that he conspired with others involved in Small’s mayoral campaign to submit false documents related to the procurement, casting, or tabulation of messenger absentee ballots in the primary.

The indictment reads like directions for how to steal an election that comes down to one vote. For example, open up absentee ballots and destroy the ones that aren’t for your candidate. Again, from the NJ Newsroom:

They allegedly picked up sealed absentee ballots from voters, unsealed them and, if they were votes for mayoral candidates other than Small, destroyed them, thereby disenfranchising those voters. If they were votes for Small, they allegedly resealed them and submitted them as votes.

In a state as notoriously corrupt as New Jersey, what are the odds that every vote will be counted on election day? Not likely if Mr. Harris’s buddies are running get-out-the-vote for Jon Corzine …