From: Dirty Little Secrets:
The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics
- by Larry Sabato and Glenn Simpson
Street Money - page 205
Is there anything worse about street money than George Washington's largesse with liquid refreshment? If it is just a nominal "honorarium" for work performed (manning the vehicles or telephones, for instance), street money is nothing much out of the ordinary, and it can be abided. Ideally, volunteers would handle the neccessary chores, but practically, the level of political participation is not high enough in most locales to generate sufficient volunteer labor.
But what about the money (often in larger amounts) that is transferred to the bank accounts of community leaders as a reward for their endorsement? Charging for an endorsement, or for an opportunity to mount the pulpit in a church, is an outrageous practice, but it now happens with frequency. Equally disturbing are the less common GOP attempts to suppress minority turnout by buying off some community leaders, who then sit at home on Election Day rather than working the polls. But while paying to suppress turnout is clearly wrong, paying large sums to a select few to gin up turnout is not really morally superior. The vote, which tens of thousands gave their blood and sweat to secure, is not a commodity that ought to be crassly traded for cash in the political marketplace.
Rude shock - pages 274-275
The idea of progress is fundamental to understanding the American character. As a people, we have always wanted to believe that the future is destined to be better than the past by dint of our unceasing efforts at improvement, which we have usually managed to bring about. Unsavory practices such as election fraud belong in the dustbin of our discarded and long outgrown history. Surely, the ballot boxes in Texas are no longer stuffed! Votes are not stolen or manufactured anymore in Alabama! Elections in Philadelphia and California are certainly clean now! The press does not look for what it does not expect to find, and the public ignores the occasional muffled sounds emanating from ballot boxes hither and yon.
But the press and the public are in for a rude shock. Voting fraud is back, is becoming more serious with each passing election cycle, and soon--because of recent changes in the law--is destined to become even worse. For our purposes here, we define voting fraud as any serious violation of election laws controlling the registration of voters or the casting of absentee, mail-in, or polling-site ballots.
The Philadelphia Story - page 283
. . .We need to remember that the Philadelphia fraud was widespread, well established, relatively easy to accomplish, and stayed hidden for a good while. Only an aggressive, generously financed, and thoroughly politicized legal assault on the system that stole an electon managed to right the balloting wrong. Most candidates are not so well positioned to pursue suspected fraud--and as a consequence, one suspects, similar or more subtle shenanigans elsewhere may go undetected and unexposed.
Sweet Home Alabama - page 287
"Do y'all understand how the system is rigged to begin with? Basically what happens is that you're not going to second-guess elections in the absence of strict proof. And then what you do is make sure the people who control the proof are in the inner circle of your party. And therefore, as the process unwinds in the wee hours of the [election] night, based on the information that's available from the media outlets, the inner circle comes up with what [votes] they need. Who's going to rat on them? Who's going to tell on them? Well, everybody knows that election officials never cheat, and after all, nobody can prove they cheat. The only thing that we know is that they're all from the same political party. And nobody would ever think that they would dare violate their oaths of office. And if I sound cynical about it, I am."
California: The Golden State for Fraud - pages 292-293
As if all this were not enough to malign California's unsecured electoral system, the record-keeping and vote certification are so sloppy that almost nothing adds up correctly. When the state's Fair Elections Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog group, examined the November 1994 returns from seven counties, the county registrars inexplicably reported totals that differed by many thousands from the vote totals certified by the California secretary of state. In Orange County, the registrar claimed 627,23 votes had been cast but the secretary of state's office released a final count of 618,448. To make matters worse, the tallies by poll workers of votes cast in each precinct frequently differed from the tallies recorded by the county registrars. In Los Angeles County, fully 40 percent of the 6,104 precincts showed a disparity between the counts of the poll workers and the registrars.
Election Fraud in Perspective - pages 297-298
The role played by the news media deserves a special comment. Many of the stories we have just reviewed received little or no national press attention, even when the local media carried news accounts. Perhaps they were seen merely as "isolated" incidents of interest only to the citizens directly affected. Remarkably, though, some of these cases of fraud attracted amazingly light attention from the local news organizations themselves. Partly, as noted at the outset, this results from the mistaken belief among journalists that vote fraud is no longer a serious problem. But it also reflects a lack of knowledge even among opinion makers about vote fraud's resurgence. Less charitably, the coverage vacuum may also be another indication of a disease some reporters may have contracted from extended contact with political professionals: a blase attitude about some unsavory aspects of the electoral sausage-making process.
In contrast to the absence of the press, the alert reader has probably already noticed that Democrats feature prominently in almost all of the instances of voter fraud featured in this chapter. Before Democrats take umbrage, and the Republicans mount a high horse, an explanation is in order. First, the GOP is fully capable of voting hijinks when circumstances permit. For example, the two Ventura County workers who were arrested in October 1994 for collecting the names of newly registered voters from tombstones were working on behalf of a Republican candidate for the legislature.
Another hotbed of Republican vote fraud is rural southeastern Kentucky, where a sizable number of GOP local candidates, consultants, and precinct workers have recently been caught paying off voters to cast their absentee ballots "correctly," among other offenses. Several decades later, the price of a vote was still reasonable--five dollars or a half-pint of whiskey--but by the 1980s and 1990s a combination of inflation and candidate competition had driven the per-vote cost to about $50. Despite the substantial increase, various local Republican politicians and their absentee-ballot "brokers"--frontmen who give people cash in exchange for their marked and signed absentees--were more than willing to pay the price.
A Grave Threat to Democracy - pages 300-301
Whether fraud is Democratic or Rebublican, or located in the North or the South
or the West, the effect on American democracy is similar. While electoral hanky-panky affects the outcome in only a small proportion of elections (mainly in very tight races), even one fraudulent ballot is too many. The superstructure of any representative democracy ultimately rests on the soundness and integrity of the elections that produce its governors. Most important of all, citizens must have complete confidence that the declared winners are the actual winners; otherwise, the motivation to participate in elections is destroyed. Millions of citizens are already convinced that their one vote matters too little to exercise the franchise. Once the pattern of election fraud becomes too obvious for the media to ignore, and the public begins to suspect or believe elections can be stolen, then American democracy's currently tenuous hold on many individuals may well dissipate.
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