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Where Prosecutors Say Votes Are Sold
NY Times ^ | August 29, 2004 | JAMES DAO

Posted on 08/28/2004 11:15:57 PM PDT by Former Military Chick

LONDON, Ky., Aug. 26 - It was not so long ago, historians say, that some voting places in eastern Kentucky were virtual vote-buying bazaars. Brokers bartered half pints of whiskey and $10 bills for votes just outside polling station doors. The cheap ones could be bought for beer. The smart voters always sold twice.

Those brazen days are gone. But, prosecutors and political experts say, the mountain tradition of vote-selling is not. And in a wide-ranging conspiracy trial that opened here this week, federal prosecutors are contending that influential people still try to buy elections in eastern Kentucky, just in more artful ways.

At the heart of the case is a coal miner's son turned wealthy coal mine operator named Ross Harris, one of eastern Kentucky's most prominent political fund-raisers. Judges, sheriffs and legislators call him friend, particularly when they call him for money. Critics say he uses his fortune to bully opponents.

Prosecutors contend that in the fall of 2002, Mr. Harris funneled $41,000 in illegal contributions to the campaign of John Doug Hays, a candidate for a Pike County district judgeship. The money financed a vote-buying scheme disguised as a program to pay people $50 each to transport, or haul, voters to the polls, the prosecutors contend.

"There was no systematic plan for hauling," Kenneth Taylor, an assistant United States attorney, told jurors this week. "It was a ruse."

Mr. Harris and his nine co-defendants have pleaded not guilty, arguing that the people who received $50 checks really did drive voters to the polls. State law allows campaigns to pay for "vote hauling," a practice that began decades ago when many poor and elderly voters in isolated hollows lacked transportation.

"It can't be a plan to use vote-hauling to buy votes if voters were, in fact, hauled," Larry A. Mackey, Mr. Harris's lawyer, said in his opening remarks. "There may not be many states where it is legal, but it is in Kentucky."

Only Mr. Harris and one of his employees, Loren Glenn Turner, are currently on trial. The other eight defendants, including Mr. Hays, are scheduled for trial in October.

The Harris case is one of several in Kentucky and West Virginia that prosecutors say confirm longstanding suspicions that vote-buying remains common in Appalachia.

Last year, Donnie Newsome, the judge-executive of Knott County in eastern Kentucky, was convicted of buying votes for $50 to $100 a piece in a 1998 primary race. He has been sentenced to 26 months in prison.

Seeking to reduce his sentence, Mr. Newsome has agreed to testify that Mr. Harris gave him about $20,000 in cash for his re-election campaign in 2002. Mr. Harris's lawyers say Mr. Newsome is lying in exchange for leniency.

In West Virginia, Johnny Mendez, the sheriff of Logan County, pleaded guilty last month to federal charges that he accepted $10,000 in illegal contributions and used the money to buy votes in 2000 and 2004.

Vote fraud, of course, is a fact of life in many places. In Kentucky, it ruined the career of Edward F. Prichard Jr., a former law clerk to Justice Felix Frankfurter of the Supreme Court who was widely seen as a future governor. Mr. Prichard was sentenced to two years for stuffing ballot boxes in 1948. He later distinguished himself as an education reformer.

In the mountains of eastern Kentucky, one of the poorest regions of the country, vote fraud has most often taken the form of vote-buying, experts said.

"It is basically conceded in Kentucky that people have a constitutional right to sell their vote," a former assistant state attorney general was quoted by Larry J. Sabato, the political scientist, in his book, "Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in America Politics."

Gordon McKinney, director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College, said vote-buying became common in the early 1900's when an emerging class of coal, timber and railroad barons sought to break the power of local party bosses.

"They wanted control at the county level because that's where their business was," he said. "They began directly to buy votes. And they won."

The system has evolved and adapted, he said, but remains the same in many ways.

In the Hays campaign, prosecutors contend, 686 people were sent $50 checks and sample ballots showing how to vote: with huge X's next to Mr. Hays's name. No other instructions were needed, the prosecutors say. "This is what we call a wink-and-nod conspiracy," Mr. Taylor, the assistant United States attorney, said.

In a taped conversation played for jurors, Tom Varney, a supporter of Mr. Hays, tells a woman that vote-hauling is "a figure of speech" and warns, "If anybody ever asks you, don't tell them its buying votes."

Defense lawyers say that Mr. Varney gave the woman $50 to buy a coat and that his words were taken out of context.

Prosecutors also called a witness who said he received money for vote-hauling even though he could not drive because of a diabetic condition. Another witness said that although he was paid to drive voters to polls, he was not told whom to transport, and made no effort to find out.

But both of those witnesses said no one told them that the checks were to buy their votes - even though they had signed affidavits saying as much several months before.

Mr. Mackey, Mr. Harris's lawyer, said the government had no evidence linking Mr. Harris to illegal contributions or vote-buying.

The prosecution will also have trouble convincing jurors that anything wrong occurred, he argued, since almost all eastern Kentucky politicians pay for vote-hauling.

"Some say this is legislation through prosecution," Mr. Mackey said. "It clearly could have a chilling effect on a long-term, historical and widely accepted practice in eastern Kentucky."

Indeed, attempts to ban vote-hauling have been blocked over the years by legislators from eastern Kentucky, including Gregory D. Stumbo, a Democrat who was the House floor leader for over a decade and is now the state's attorney general.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Stumbo said he considered vote-hauling a useful method of getting disabled or disadvantaged voters to the polls, provided it is done legally.

Even if the prosecution can demonstrate the Hays campaign's vote-hauling was really vote-buying, it may face another obstacle: the perception among at least some eastern Kentucky residents that vote-buying is not a serious crime.

Concerns that jurors would be too sympathetic toward, or easily intimidated by, the defendants caused Judge Karen K. Caldwell of Federal District Court to move the trial from Pikeville to London, 90 miles away.

F. Chris Gorman, the state's attorney general from 1992 to 1996, said he was once threatened when he called for cracking down on vote-buying in eastern Kentucky. Mr. Gorman, who ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Stumbo last year, called for banning vote-hauling during the campaign.

"We tried to prosecute some vote-buying cases while I was attorney general, and it was very difficult to get a guilty conviction in eastern Kentucky," he said. "It's so ingrained in the culture."


TOPICS: Front Page News; US: Kentucky; US: West Virginia
KEYWORDS: 2004electionfraud; buyingvotes; corruptdems; crime; dirtytricks; electionfraud; electionlaws; felony; howtostealanelection; kentucky; kerrycampaign; knockanddrag; payola; rattricks; voterfraud; votes

1 posted on 08/28/2004 11:15:57 PM PDT by Former Military Chick
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To: Chieftain; Ragtime Cowgirl; gatorbait; writer33; GreyFriar; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; ...
>>The money financed a vote-buying scheme disguised as a program to pay people $50 each to transport, or haul, voters to the polls, the prosecutors contend.<<

I cannot believe my eyes. I think I served my country for people like this to do something that is SO wrong, in so many areas. I am angered. I am sad, is this what it has come to. That one side/any side does this to their fellow Americans. I can find a nice bed at Leavenworth for these corrupt and evil people. Sorry guys, I just am getting sick and tired of all of this. I know I do my part for the November election. I hope others do their part as well. I just cannot even begin to think where we will be if Kerry is elected.

2 posted on 08/28/2004 11:21:13 PM PDT by Former Military Chick (I previously posted under Military Chick)
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To: Former Military Chick

Why do you think Dems control the Kentucky House almosr 2-1


3 posted on 08/28/2004 11:24:56 PM PDT by GeronL (Viking Kitties have won the GOLD MEDAL in the 2,000 meter ZOTTING)
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To: GeronL; Seadog Bytes

That does not shock me, but, I am curious. They say that this area is well, impoverished. I did not spend time in that part of KY, we lived at Ft Campbell.

But as I read this article, I thought, this area has one of the highest drug problems, death associated to OxyContin a very expensive pain medicine and suicides.

Is this what these folks were doing with their earnings? I just don't know.

This just ticked me off in ways I cannot put into words.

I hope you don't mind I included Sea Dog in this reply.


4 posted on 08/28/2004 11:31:22 PM PDT by Former Military Chick (I previously posted under Military Chick)
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To: Former Military Chick

well.. the poorest area in the US is.. in Mississippi? Thats where they love to file class action lawsuits because the juries are so 'generous'.


5 posted on 08/28/2004 11:44:00 PM PDT by GeronL (Viking Kitties have won the GOLD MEDAL in the 2,000 meter ZOTTING)
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To: Former Military Chick
Tirade against Christians on Kentucky House floor

Another Kentucky political thread today

6 posted on 08/28/2004 11:46:17 PM PDT by GeronL (Viking Kitties have won the GOLD MEDAL in the 2,000 meter ZOTTING)
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To: GeronL

Thank you very much for the thread, one can never be to informed.


7 posted on 08/28/2004 11:50:56 PM PDT by Former Military Chick (I previously posted under Military Chick)
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To: Former Military Chick

This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats.


8 posted on 08/28/2004 11:52:54 PM PDT by GeronL (Viking Kitties have won the GOLD MEDAL in the 2,000 meter ZOTTING)
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To: Former Military Chick
The cheap ones could be bought for beer...Those brazen days are gone.

Nobody told Michael Moore. You heard how his film ends with the slogan "DO SOMETHING". Here is what Miserable Failure suggests on his website: Buy votes for Kerry.

http://www.michaelmoore.com/takeaction/vote/pledge.php

Pick five of the people you know who probably aren't going to vote. Acknowledge their despair and cynicism. Don't try to talk them out of it. But gently give them pieces of information over the next few months.

And then make a plan for Election Day. Take them out to vote and out to lunch (you pick up the tab!). Or have a party that night for those who voted that day.

Or get more creative. Offer a six-pack to anyone in the office who votes (make sure you're not working in cubicles full of Republicans!). Promise to have sex with a nonvoter - whatever it takes!

This does not appear to be satirical. There is no disclaimer. I've posted this information as its own thread and sent it to Drudge but it went nowhere.

Here's another attempt at brokering for votes:

F--- The Vote

They claim it is a "joke" and not binding but they want people to sign a pledge. That makes it a document, how binding it is would be decided by the courts. Looks like they may have been investigated (after getting a lot of press) as they are no longer online (and I checked the web address with a couple of articles).

The left got caught in 2000 trying to trade votes for Ralph Nader for Algore Jr. votes (a claim was made that if Naderites would support Gore in battleground states, a Goron would vote for Nader in a secure state).

9 posted on 08/29/2004 12:31:30 AM PDT by weegee (YOU could have been aborted, and you wouldn't have had a CHOICE about it.)
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To: weegee

Thank you, your post is illuminating. After every election we hear whispers about voter fraud. But, I think 2000 put a new face on the issue.

Losing votes, dead people voting, felons voting. I am sure there are more, but, the more I consider this the more my head aches!

OK will add one more, folks giving their vote for a pack of cigarettes.

What has this country come to?

BTW, thank you for the links, I so appreciate your effort.


10 posted on 08/29/2004 12:39:33 AM PDT by Former Military Chick (I previously posted under Military Chick)
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To: GeronL; Former Military Chick

BUMP! ...ON POINT!!!, GeronL...You can say THAT again!!!

...Click on a link...or SIX!!! ...Have your friends do the same!

"This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats."

"This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats."

"This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats."

"This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats."

"This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats."

"This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats."

- Election Fraud - Election Fraud - Election Fraud - Election Fraud - Election Fraud - Election Fraud - Election Fraud - Election Fraud

/rant

11 posted on 08/29/2004 12:44:38 AM PDT by Seadog Bytes (OPM* - The Liberal Solution to All of Society's Problems. (...*Other People's Money))
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To: Seadog Bytes
Love your post, but, perhaps a little less coffee!
12 posted on 08/29/2004 12:47:53 AM PDT by Former Military Chick (I previously posted under Military Chick)
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To: Seadog Bytes
LOL!

Hey that will be my new tagline

13 posted on 08/29/2004 12:50:15 AM PDT by GeronL (Viking Kitties have won the GOLD MEDAL in the 2,000 meter ZOTTING)
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To: Former Military Chick

There used to be a mailing list on FR for "vote fraud" but now there are PING lists and keywords. I don't know if the "list" still exists.


14 posted on 08/29/2004 12:50:22 AM PDT by weegee (YOU could have been aborted, and you wouldn't have had a CHOICE about it.)
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To: Former Military Chick

coffee, tea, soda, JOLT Cola....


15 posted on 08/29/2004 12:52:25 AM PDT by GeronL ("This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats.")
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To: Former Military Chick; sweetliberty; nicmarlo

We hear you about vote fraud. It is my biggest peeve with the rats!


16 posted on 08/29/2004 12:56:58 AM PDT by TheLion
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To: Former Military Chick
(...whispering...) oh darn. i was wondering what that stupid 'h1' code did...now i see here in the 'manual' where it says we're not supposed to use that one after 9pm...sorry if i woke anyone up...

...so what will be the 'punishment'? ...is it time to strap on the old asbestos suit... or will that post just be dropped into some black hole somewhere, never to be seen again?
(p.s. - you're right about the coffee. ...lol [quietly, of course.])

...did you click a link? election fraud

Guess I should have just posted this one, about buying votes, again...


17 posted on 08/29/2004 1:23:22 AM PDT by Seadog Bytes (OPM* - The Liberal Solution to All of Society's Problems. (...*Other People's Money))
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To: everyone

Now that Ky. has a Republican governor, maybe something will actually happen to these Neanderthals.

They deserve lengthy prison sentences. They are one step above traitors, in my book.


18 posted on 08/29/2004 1:27:44 AM PDT by California Patriot (California Patriot)
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To: Former Military Chick
The money financed a vote-buying scheme disguised as a program to pay people $50 each to transport, or haul, voters to the polls, the prosecutors contend.

John Corzine did pretty much the same in the black areas of New Jersey. Such get-out-the-vote volunteers were paid from a stack of 75$ checks. Mnay did nothing to get anyone to the polls except themselves.

http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/04/politics/04JERS.html?ex=1093924800&en=a65dd5521ff46aad&ei=5070

Much of that is going for so-called street money, payments of $50 or $75 to thousands of political foot soldiers. They are being pushed to boost Democratic turnout to record numbers, particularly among the party's base of black and Hispanic voters in Newark, Camden, Elizabeth, Trenton and other cities.

Those cadres of workers, many of whom have been working on a per diem basis for either the Corzine campaign or the state Democratic Party since as early as August, include several dozen residents of at least two homeless shelters in North Philadelphia.

 


19 posted on 08/29/2004 1:37:06 AM PDT by dennisw (Allah FUBAR!)
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To: Former Military Chick

"Defense lawyers say that Mr. Varney gave the woman $50 to buy a coat and that his words were taken out of context."

LOL, best line in the article!

It seems the dems have a hard time holding power by legitimate means, they've basically got to bribe people to put them in office. In Kentucky you've got vote hauling (wonderful awful phrase), in NJ we've got "walking around money".


20 posted on 08/29/2004 1:51:32 AM PDT by jocon307 (That's allowed, as long as we all vote for W.)
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To: GeronL; Former Military Chick
...or maybe 'get ahead of the power curve' a little with THIS one... (see tagline below) It's yours if you want it. ...and they'd all probably just call you 'Nostradamus the Omniscient' around here from now on.

Election Fraud

21 posted on 08/29/2004 1:55:30 AM PDT by Seadog Bytes ("This is going to be a recordbreaking year for <a href="http://www.johnkerry.com">Election Fraud</a>)
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To: Seadog Bytes

Just as good a tagline as mine


22 posted on 08/29/2004 2:02:09 AM PDT by GeronL ("This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats.")
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To: weegee; Former Military Chick; sweetliberty

FYI, here's a link to one of the "Freepers Against Vote Fraud" threads that sweetliberty put together. She's done a terrific job on these in the past. I'm not sure that, after her computer blew up (or melted down, lol) and her busy-ness right now, if she's been able or will be able to continue this kind of thread.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/798132/posts


23 posted on 08/29/2004 5:03:05 AM PDT by nicmarlo
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To: Hiskid

Ping


24 posted on 08/29/2004 8:46:07 AM PDT by reformedliberal ("John, YOU were the wrong one, here". Bob Dole)
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To: Former Military Chick
Losing votes, dead people voting, felons voting. I am sure there are more, but, the more I consider this the more my head aches!

Don't forget the vote-a-matic in the car trunk of the Florida Democrat official...

25 posted on 08/29/2004 9:01:02 AM PDT by JimRed (Fight election fraud! Volunteer as a local poll watcher, challenger or district official.)
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To: Former Military Chick

Note that the Times does not ID the political party of any of the crooked politicians.

Safe bet that both the fraudsters, and the reporter, pull the D lever in the voting booth. Or pay to have it pulled.

d.o.l.

Criminal Number 18F


26 posted on 08/29/2004 9:42:19 AM PDT by Criminal Number 18F
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To: nicmarlo
>>http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/798132/posts<<

Thank you for the link, it looks most interesting.

27 posted on 08/29/2004 4:23:35 PM PDT by Former Military Chick (I previously posted under Military Chick)
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To: Former Military Chick

yw; there's lots to read between thread 2 and the first thread.


28 posted on 08/29/2004 7:02:45 PM PDT by nicmarlo
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To: GeronL; All

RE: "This is going to be a recordbreaking year for election fraud by the Democrats." --GeronL

*You got it!* We are going to desperately need good people such as yourself (HEY - At least it's not in JULY!) as 'election monitors' (to 'monitor' the 'monitors') down in FL ...and to make sure Kofi Annan and his gang of thieves don't 'introduce' any more 'transient errors' down there *THIS* time......

...AND WHO WILL WATCH THESE UN-(AMERICAN) 'WATCHERS'...???

CNN article follows...




"*International team to monitor presidential election*"
...Observers will be part of OSCE's human rights office
From David de Sola - CNN
Monday, August 9, 2004 Posted: 9:08 AM EDT (1308 GMT)
_______________________________________________________

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A team of international observers will monitor the presidential election in November, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was invited to monitor the election by the State Department. The observers will come from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

It will be the first time such a team has been present for a U.S. presidential election.

"The U.S. is obliged to invite us, as all OSCE countries should," spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said. "It's not legally binding, but it's a political commitment. They signed a document 10 years ago to ask OSCE to observe elections."

Thirteen Democratic members of the House of Representatives, raising the specter of possible civil rights violations that they said took place in Florida and elsewhere in the 2000 election, wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in July, asking him to send observers.

After Annan rejected their request, saying the administration must make the application, the Democrats asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to do so.

The issue was hotly debated in the House, and Republicans got an amendment to a foreign aid bill that barred federal funds from being used for the United Nations to monitor U.S. elections, The Associated Press reported.

In a letter dated July 30 and released last week, Assistant Secretary of State Paul Kelly told the Democrats about the invitation to OSCE, without mentioning the U.N. issue.

"I am pleased that Secretary Powell is as committed as I am to a fair and democratic process," said Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, who spearheaded the effort to get U.N. observers.

"The presence of monitors will assure Americans that America cares about their votes and it cares about its standing in the world," she said in a news release.

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California agreed.

"This represents a step in the right direction toward ensuring that this year's elections are fair and transparent," she said.

"I am pleased that the State Department responded by acting on this need for international monitors. We sincerely hope that the presence of the monitors will make certain that every person's voice is heard, every person's vote is counted."

OSCE, the world's largest regional security organization, will send a preliminary mission to Washington in September to assess the size, scope, logistics and cost of the mission, Gunnarsdottir said.

The organization, which counts among its missions conflict prevention and postconflict rehabilitation, will then determine how many observers are required and where in the United States they will be sent.

"OSCE-participating [nations] agreed in 1990 to observe elections in one another's countries. The OSCE routinely monitors elections within its 55-state membership, including Europe, Eurasia, Canada and the United States," a State Department spokesman said.

The spokesman said the United States does not have any details on the size and composition of the observers or what countries will provide them.

OSCE, based in Vienna, Austria, has sent more than 10,000 personnel to monitor more than 150 elections and referenda in more than 30 countries during the past decade, Gunnarsdottir said.

In November 2002, OSCE sent 10 observers on a weeklong mission to monitor the U.S. midterm elections. OSCE also sent observers to monitor the California gubernatorial recall election last year.

More recently, OSCE monitored the elections in Northern Ireland in November and in Spain in March.


29 posted on 08/29/2004 7:39:26 PM PDT by Seadog Bytes (OPM* -- The Liberal solution to ALL of America's problems. (*...Other People's Money.))
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