Skip to comments.Rumors of [SD] vote buying continue
Posted on 11/02/2004 3:07:59 AM PST by conservative in nyc
The Tripp County auditor and her deputy have charged a Republican poll watcher with being disruptive at a satellite voting station on Rosebud Indian Reservation, a charge the man denies.
In addition, Auditor Kathleen Flakus said in a signed statement sent to reporters Monday that she heard Republican poll watcher Paul Brenner of Burke, Va., tell voters coming to the station last week that they could be paid $10 to vote.
Brenner presents a different version of the incident in his own affidavit, also sent Monday to the Journal. He claims to have found evidence of vote buying on the Rosebud Reservation on behalf of Democrats.
Brenner said he was discussing the issue with voters who said they expected to be paid for their vote, as well as a driver who said she sometimes had to split the money she received for hauling voters to the polls with some of those voters.
It is the most recent round of a back-and-forth battle over unsubstantiated charges that Indian voters are illegally being paid or offered payment by Democratic interests for their votes on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations. Despite strong assertions, Brenner and other Republican poll watchers have so far produced little beyond second-hand stories about vote buying.
"I have people who have heard conversations about vote buying and have heard people ask where they get their vote money," Craig Engle, a Washington, D.C., lawyer volunteering for Republicans, said Monday. "They're paying vote haulers, in cash, per person, for every voter they bring to the polls. This cash-per-person system is actually the same system they are using to pass out money to the voters."
Engle, however, said he didn't have proof of that.
And a spokesman for the Four Directions Committee, a nonprofit organization working to increase reservation voter registration and turnout, said Monday that the charges by Engle and other Republicans are unproven and untrue. Even worse, they are probably based on rumors started by Republican volunteers themselves, Four Directions Executive Director Bret Healy said.
"It's their guys spreading rumors, then, when they bounce back, reporting them as fact," Healy said. "It's their people doing this. It's outrageous. This is just out and out bull(expletive)."
Healy, a former executive director of the state Democratic Party, said Four Directions does take people to the polls and pays drivers for those deliveries, which is legal. But it doesn't pay for votes, he said.
"That's just baloney," he said.
Along with Flakus, deputy auditor Marie Condon signed a statement saying that Brenner had spoken in a "loud and disruptive manner" and that he had been "intimidating and disrespectful." Four Directions employee Marian Rabago also signed a statement saying that Brenner was disruptive and intimidating toward her and voters at the station and that she also heard him tell voters that they could get paid by Four Directions and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle.
Rumors about vote buying have been sweeping Indian Country. Bruce Whalen, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe running for the state Legislature on the Republican ticket, sent a letter to tribal President John Yellow Bird Steele alleging the vote buying and urging Steele to stop it.
Republican state vice chairman Elli Schwiesow said tribal people have stopped at the Republican office in Pine Ridge to ask for money for their vote.
"We've had people burst through our door and demand money. We'll ask what candidate, and they'll say Demo-crat," she said.
Despite the rumors, Fall River County officials, who handle Shannon County ballots, haven't found any proof. State's Attorney Lance Russell said he had heard disturbing stories but had no evidence to prove them.
Actually, I was monitoring the news and the Republican filed the vote buying charges first. It seems Native Americans were coming into the headquarters and demanding their money for voting for the democrats....Demwits always turn it around don't they?
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