21 March, 2009

What Was That About Voter Fraud Again?

I think we have a bigger problem than a few bogus voter registration forms:

From Lexington, Kentucky's NBC affiliate this afternoon:

Five Clay County officials, including the circuit court judge, the county clerk, and election officers were arrested Thursday after they were indicted on federal charges accusing them of using corrupt tactics to obtain political power and personal gain.

The 10-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, accused the defendants of a conspiracy from March 2002 until November 2006 that violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). RICO is a federal statute that prosecutors use to combat organized crime. The defendants were also indicted for extortion, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to injure voters' rights and conspiracy to commit voter fraud.

According to the indictment, these alleged criminal actions affected the outcome of federal, local, and state primary and general elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006.

My oh my. Smells like election fraud.
Having now reviewed the indictment, as linked above, here are some additional details on the alleged conspiracy which included election fraud though the buying and selling of votes to be cast in a certain way, with the aid of one of the defendants who served as a poll worker during the Early Voting period. Also, at the polling place on Election Day with aid of poll workers, drafted as both Democratic and Republican judges, to elect a slate of candidates --- some of them bribed --- the conspirators would manipulate the votes of "qualified voters" at the voting machines themselves.

Many of the voters, it seems, had no idea that their votes were manipulated after they'd left the touch-screen voting machine. While the Early Voting scheme involved finding voters who might wish to be paid to have their vote cast a certain way, the Election Day scheme, carried out in primary and general elections in at least 2004 and 2006, was accomplished by taking advantage of a "feature" on all DRE (usually touch-screen) voting systems and "voter unfamiliarity with new voting machines."

Essentially, they tricked voters into leaving the 'booth' after pressing the "Vote" button on the ES&S iVotronic. That button, does not actually cast the vote, as one might think (and as these voters were told), but instead, it brings up a review screen of the voter's "ballot."

Instructing the voters that they were done, the conspirators then, after the voter had left, would change the voters' votes as they saw fit, before finally pressing the "Cast Ballot" button.

They also appear to have done a considerable amount of buying votes. And they've done this for several elections.

I can't get clear information on which politicians were on the "slates" these fuckers worked from. One of the officials indicted was a Democrat. But I discovered that this county's represented by Cons on both the state and national levels. And here's a bit of interesting food for thought:
Early this morning CNN was making the point that there was scant interest in today's election in Clay County. Today 649 Democrats voted (32%) and 2,569 Republicans voted (19.6%). Hillary took 85% of the Democratic vote and McCain took 74% of the Republican vote. On the Senate side Lunsford got 48.5% of the Democratic vote and Greg Fischer got 26.2%.


That said, Kentucky Democrats gave a corrupt Zell Miller type quasi-Democrat, Bruce Lunsford, their nomination for the U.S. Senate, virtually guaranteeing another term for an even more reactionary and more corrupt Mitch McConnell.
If that Dem was attempting to help get Dems elected, he did a piss-poor job. He was probably in it for the money more than the power - it's hard to believe a deep-red county could muster enough Dem candidates with the requisite power, money and questionable ethics to make it worth his while otherwise.

The point isn't so much partisan anyway. It's the fact that this was so easily done, and for so long. Cons can scream about Acorn all they like, but the real danger to democracy comes from election officials pulling these sorts of breathtaking dirty tricks, not a few nobodies who turn in fake applications so they can get paid without having to work, or the occasional dumbshit who votes twice. Those things are fairly easily caught, and they're too small-scale to make much difference.

This kind of systemic fraud, on the other hand, is some serious shit indeed. And it's something to remember the next time Cons dismiss election fraud as a non-starter while screaming to high heaven about voter fraud.

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