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Ballots cast in Houston using dead votersí names
Texas Watchdog website ^ | Thursday, October 9th, 2008 | By Lee Ann O'Neal

Posted on 10/12/2008 1:27:50 AM PDT by Fred Nerks

Thousands on the rolls after death, creating potential for fraud

Woodwick Street was quiet — with a few residents working in their yards and adding to post-storm brush piles at the curb — when Texas Watchdog visited on a recent Saturday to try to find Harris County voter Linda K. Hill.

“I’m sorry, but she passed on two years ago,” said a mustached man wearing a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap and driving a motorized chair down the street. He was Linda Hill’s husband, Henderson Hill Jr.

Linda Kay Hill, a homemaker and Louisiana native, died Aug. 2, 2006, of a heart attack, her husband recalled, and is buried at Houston Memorial Gardens in Pearland. But Harris County voter records indicate she –- or someone using her identity –- cast a ballot in the November election that year. Linda Hill of Woodwick Street voted in person on Election Day, records show.

She is among the more than 4,000 people whose names are listed both on Harris County’s voter rolls and also in a federal database of death records, a Texas Watchdog analysis has found.

And dozens of those people, like Linda Hill, have apparently cast ballots from beyond the grave, records since 2004 show. One expert says the number of deceased names used to cast ballots may be higher than what Texas Watchdog’s analysis found.

Instances of dead voters’ names being used to cast ballots were most frequent in three elections, the November 2004 general election, the November 2006 general election and the March 2008 Democratic primary, the analysis found.

Less than a month away from an election to decide the highest office in the land, some advocates worry that such errors in the voter records open the door for fraud, compromise the integrity of results and lessen voter confidence in the system.

The findings come as the group ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has faced scrutiny in multiple states for allegedly improper voter registrations — including players for the Dallas Cowboys, not in the Lone Star State, but in Nevada. The group’s Nevada offices were raided by state officials earlier this week.

That’s as officials in at least six states may have improperly removed tens of thousands of voters from the rolls or prevented them from registering, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

‘Counterfeiting’ of votes threatens electoral process “This is subverting the ballot,” said John Fund, a Wall Street Journal columnist and author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy. “Just like you counterfeit dollars, we take it seriously, if you counterfeit votes we should take it equally seriously, and we should punish people seriously for trying to subvert democracy.”

And 4,000 voters isn’t chump change, even though the figure is a tiny fraction of Harris County’s 1.9 million registered voters.

Elections have been decided by less: By fewer than 300 votes, Andres Pereira edged out Bruce Mosier to win the Democratic nomination for 190th District judge in March. Democrat Hubert Vo squeaked by Republican Talmadge Heflin in 2004 to win a state House seat by 33 votes, according to an official recount. And George W. Bush actually won Florida by 1,665 votes in 2000, according to a hand recount after the election commissioned by USA Today, the Miami Herald and Knight Ridder.

Even one wrong record, his wife’s, worries Henderson Hill.

Speaking in the dining room of the home in the East Little York/Homestead neighborhood where the couple moved in 1976, Hill said he didn’t know why or how the county would have recorded his late wife as voting three months after her death. He’s curious to know how it happened — and concerned about whether her identity has been stolen.

“I’d like to know if anyone had (gotten) a hold of her driver’s license or something,” said the retired mechanic for Houston’s Metro system. “I really don’t know who would do that.”

The couple were married 34 years. Henderson Hill confirmed that his late wife was born on the same day as the person listed by Harris County as having voted in November 2006, and her Social Security number is also the same as that found in the Social Security Administration’s death records.

The issue of dead voters on the Texas rolls has come up before.

A November 2007 state audit found records of more than 23,000 registered voters who may have died. Those cases have since been investigated, said Ann McGeehan, director of elections at the Secretary of State’s office. Records of confirmed dead voters were removed, she said.

McGeehan spoke with KPRC Channel 2’s investigative team, with whom Texas Watchdog shared its analysis. (Click screenshot at left to see KPRC Local 2’s video.)

In recent years, concerns about voter fraud have prompted a national movement to require photo identification at the polls. The U.S. Supreme Court in April upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, a decision seen as reassurance that similar laws in other states requiring voters to show photo identification, or ID without a photo, could survive legal tests.

Critics of the voter ID movement say such laws make it too difficult for people to exercise their right to vote and are especially tough on poor people, who may not already have a driver’s license or other photo ID and can’t afford the fees that come with securing identification.

In Texas, voters must identify themselves at their polling place, but they are not limited to their voter registration card or photo ID. Voters may use a driver’s license, a birth certificate, a passport, utility bill, bank statement or paycheck, among other options.

Obituaries, death records used in cleaning up rolls Officials say they make every effort to rid the voter rolls of dead people. Workers in the Harris County tax assessor and voter registrar’s office comb through obituaries, death certificates and legal documents filed after a person’s death. They use those records, along with confirmation from family members, to identify dead people on the rolls.

“We do all we can, but you know, we’d rather err on the side of leaving people on the roll instead of taking them off inadvertently,” George Hammerlein, director of Harris County voter registration, told KPRC-Local 2 Investigates.

Hammerlein said the office has “never had any evidence” of an organized attempt to defraud the system. And given the volume of records the office deals with, Hammerlein said a few thousand is not huge.

“Four thousand out of 1.9-something-million voters represents a fairly small percent,” he said. “I think, in the grand scheme of things, it’s small.”

But Fund said it’s hard to determine whether the 4,000 is the extent of the problem. And the analysis did not cover felons, people who’ve moved out of state and duplicate records within the voter rolls.

“Let’s say somebody is registered who doesn’t exist. How would you know that that was an improper vote?” Fund said. “All you have is an address. The person shows up at the polls, signs a signature, can vote. How would you know an improper vote has been cast? You wouldn’t.”

In addition to the local efforts, the Secretary of State’s office compares voter rolls with the Department of State Health Services’ records of deaths. When the death records and voter rolls match on name, date of birth and Social Security number, the office asks local officials to remove those people from the voter rolls. And if the office finds close matches — for example, cases in which everything matches but Social Security number — the state asks local officials to investigate further.

The state’s death records are updated anywhere from 24 hours to two months after a person’s death, depending on whether electronic or paper records are used, Department of State Health Services spokesman Doug McBride said.

Candidate who lost says other voting problems loom larger Not everyone thinks having dead voters on the rolls poses a major problem.

“Any voting irregularity is a cause for concern,” said Lloyd Wayne Oliver, who lost the Democratic contest for 174th District judge in March. “Probably some people who voted for me were dead.”

But the Houston criminal defense lawyer said other barriers to access, like political activists who purport to register everyone but trash registrations from those whose party philosophy doesn’t match theirs, weigh heavier on the system.

Oliver said he doesn’t think having dead voters on the rolls harmed his chances. Oliver lost to Ruben Guerrero, who faces Assistant District Attorney Bill Moore, a Republican, in November.

But Alexis Guidry thinks her mother would be troubled if she knew about her apparently posthumous vote.

Gloria Guidry passed away last May, but Harris County voting records indicate she cast a ballot in the March 2008 Democratic primary.

Guidry was a mother of four, grandmother of 11, and first lady, or pastor’s wife, of the New Covenant Fellowship Church in Houston.

“She would be livid,” daughter Alexis Guidry said.

Alexis Guidry, an English student at the University of Houston, said she would ask her father to look into the matter. Guidry said she didn’t know of anyone who would have access to her mother’s identifying information, and none of the four daughters share her mother’s name.

(Pictured at left: Gloria Guidry.)

Record errors, people with similar names Some of the more than 4,000 people may not be dead.

In the method Texas Watchdog used, matching first, last and middle names and dates of birth, two people with a common name born on the same day could be mixed up with each other.

Errors in the federal death records may point to dead people when they are, in fact, alive. The Social Security Administration itself says there may be errors in its death records.

In one case identified by Texas Watchdog, a poll worker’s mistake may have led to a faulty record.

John Medford said there must have been a mix-up when he was told his father -– who died in 2006 –- had voted in the March Democratic primary.

They lived at the same Neff Street address. They shared their name: John Curtis Medford. But the father was born in 1917, the son in 1951.

“My mom and I voted. That’s all I know,” Medford said. But the younger Medford didn’t vote, records show.

Poll workers apparently recorded the father as showing up to the polls, not the son.

How we reported the story: Deaths are recorded by the federal government at the Social Security Administration. We obtained the database through the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, a program of the nonprofit Investigative Reporters and Editors and the University of Missouri School of Journalism. The database does not include people who die without ever having a Social Security number.

We compared the federal records (1937 through June of this year) to Harris County’s records of registered voters as of Sept. 1 (kept by the county tax assessor). At that point there were almost 1.9 million voters on the rolls, though more have registered since then.

We looked for people whose names — first, last and middle — and dates of birth matched. There were more than 2,100 cases where all fields matched exactly.

Then we added close matches.

In the case of middle names, an initial like ‘J’ in one database could match a middle name like ‘John’ in the other. We found about 700 records that were like this.

We considered a blank middle name in one database as a possible match with a completed middle name in the other. And we considered blank middle names in both databases with matches on everything else possible matches. There were more than 1,400 records that fell into these categories.

We also considered possible misspellings or typos, like a middle name of ‘John’ in one database and middle name of ‘Jhon’ in the other. There were more than 100 records like this.

Our search yielded more than 4,000 matches, or voters who may be dead. Click here to see the database.

We matched those records with voting history records (kept by the Harris County clerk) to determine whether people’s names may have been used to cast ballots. We matched the 4,000 with the voting history records using identification numbers assigned by local and state officials. We examined elections since the March 2004 primary.

E-mail Lee Ann O’Neal at leeann@texaswatchdog.org or call 713-366-7979. Texas Watchdog staffers Jennifer Peebles and Trent Seibert contributed to this report.

Photo at top left: Texas Watchdog photo illustration using photos by flickr users infomatique and yaquina, used via the Creative Commons license.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; Politics/Elections; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: deadvote; houston; tx2008; votefraud
“She would be livid,” daughter Alexis Guidry said.

Alexis Guidry, an English student at the University of Houston, said she would ask her father to look into the matter. Guidry said she didn’t know of anyone who would have access to her mother’s identifying information, and none of the four daughters share her mother’s name.

(Pictured: Gloria Guidry.)

1 posted on 10/12/2008 1:27:50 AM PDT by Fred Nerks
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To: LucyT

Interesting - I found the link to this article on the ‘Democrats Against Obama’ website:

http://www.democrats-against-obama.org/


2 posted on 10/12/2008 1:30:51 AM PDT by Fred Nerks
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To: Fred Nerks

Why is it that deads always vote for Dems?

“The findings come as the group ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has faced scrutiny in multiple states for allegedly improper voter registrations ..”


3 posted on 10/12/2008 1:42:57 AM PDT by Sun (Pray that God sends us good leaders. Please say a prayer now.)
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To: Sun
Why is it that deads always vote for Dems?

Zombies like Obama's health care plan.
4 posted on 10/12/2008 1:52:43 AM PDT by kb2614 (Hell hath no fury than a bureaucrat scorned)
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To: kb2614

“Zombies like Obama’s health care plan.”

I think you’re right.


5 posted on 10/12/2008 1:55:22 AM PDT by Sun (Pray that God sends us good leaders. Please say a prayer now.)
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To: Sun

A utility bill, a bank statement, or a paycheck? These are not identifying documents! It takes more than that to enroll your child in school. What an utterly absurd standard, obviously crafted by Democrats! Isn’t it remarkable that all the fraudulent cases they cited were voting for Democrats?


6 posted on 10/12/2008 2:09:12 AM PDT by singfreedom
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To: Sun

> Why is it that deads always vote for Dems?

because Dems are brain-dead?


7 posted on 10/12/2008 2:09:18 AM PDT by max americana
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To: singfreedom

When did Houston become part of New Jersey?


8 posted on 10/12/2008 2:12:52 AM PDT by Clemenza (PRIVATIZE FANNIE AND FREDDIE! NO MORE BAILOUTS!)
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To: Fred Nerks

It must be end times, the dead are arising from their graves and voting...


9 posted on 10/12/2008 2:17:41 AM PDT by wastoute
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To: wastoute; Sun

10 posted on 10/12/2008 2:57:49 AM PDT by Fred Nerks
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To: Fred Nerks

That is sooooo funny!


11 posted on 10/12/2008 3:15:01 AM PDT by Sun (Pray that God sends us good leaders. Please say a prayer now.)
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To: Fred Nerks

Why has this been allowed to go on, and is enough being done to stop it? We’re not Central America!


12 posted on 10/12/2008 3:17:45 AM PDT by PureSolace (God save us all)
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To: Fred Nerks

Sad fact is that while there has ALWAYS been vote fraud in our elections, in recent years with groups like ACORN and others, it has been taken into the level of a major business.
In all honesty from this point forward unless we find some magical way to prevent the hundreds of methods of fraud, our elections will be little more then a joke.


13 posted on 10/12/2008 3:29:29 AM PDT by SECURE AMERICA (Vote FOR AMERICA . Vote McCain / Palin)
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To: Clemenza

I guess, in that regard anyway, our world really is getting smaller. (Sigh.)


14 posted on 10/12/2008 3:39:31 AM PDT by singfreedom
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To: Fred Nerks
Wonderful——but sad, really sad.
15 posted on 10/12/2008 3:41:03 AM PDT by singfreedom
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To: singfreedom

The bigger question is: since 9/11, you cannot open a bank account, rent an apartment, or lots of other things without i.d., so why then can you vote without a picture i.d.? And why is it “incovenient” to force voters to produce an i.d.?


16 posted on 10/12/2008 3:45:52 AM PDT by Grumpybutt
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To: Grumpybutt

I don’t have a problem with the deads voting, but they ought to be paying taxes and doing jury duty if they want to stay registered. Maybe we could create a dead tax (rather than a poll tax) and just let them pay that and vote?


17 posted on 10/12/2008 4:02:31 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: Fred Nerks

It looks like the New Orleans voting scheme has migrated to Texas. I’d bet dollars to donuts that Obama’s ACORN gang has its dirty little hands in this. Probably similar activity in all 50 states (or 57 states as Obama says).


18 posted on 10/12/2008 4:03:28 AM PDT by meyer (Go, Sarah, Go!!)
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To: Fred Nerks

“The U.S. Supreme Court in April upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, a decision seen as reassurance that similar laws in other states requiring voters to show photo identification, or ID without a photo, could survive legal tests.”

Even Indiana’s tough law still allows for fraud. My ID was only checked at the door, to verify I had it. Then I walked to the other side of the room, told them my name, and signed the log without my id ever being requested.


19 posted on 10/12/2008 4:12:26 AM PDT by mongrel
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To: SECURE AMERICA

Lately an old Thomas Nast cartoon — actually most of his work was too good to be called “cartoons” has come to mind: http://elections.harpweek.com/1864/cartoon-1864-Medium.asp?UniqueID=53&Year=1864


20 posted on 10/12/2008 4:24:37 AM PDT by scrabblehack
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To: scrabblehack

21 posted on 10/12/2008 4:32:58 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Fred Nerks

[“Four thousand out of 1.9-something-million voters represents a fairly small percent,” he said. “I think, in the grand scheme of things, it’s small.”]

Insignificant? I would refer to the Bush/Gore vote count.


22 posted on 10/12/2008 4:46:00 AM PDT by RetSignman (DEMSM: "If you tell a big enough lie, frequently enough, it becomes the truth")
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To: Fred Nerks

George Hemmerlein should be FIRED ASAP!!! He’s in CHARGE of Voter Registration, yet he doesn’t think 4 THOUSAND DEAD VOTERS is A BIG DEAL??????? CROOKS.....CHEATS....LIARS.....DEMOCRATS are VILE.


23 posted on 10/12/2008 4:52:29 AM PDT by Ann Archy (AbortiDUH!!!on.....The Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: RetSignman

Please add the man’s name and HIS JOB to that quote....he’s in CHARGE of VOTER REGISTRATION!!


24 posted on 10/12/2008 4:54:09 AM PDT by Ann Archy (AbortiDUH!!!on.....The Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: Ann Archy

I totally agree...I’m an Australian, our voting methods are totally different but I guarantee you, the dead don’t vote here.

Purple Fingers is what you need. If anyone wants to vote twice, they will have to cut one finger off. That would stop them!


25 posted on 10/12/2008 5:02:37 AM PDT by Fred Nerks
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To: RetSignman

26 posted on 10/12/2008 5:07:13 AM PDT by Fred Nerks
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To: Fred Nerks

Oh....but there might be ONE person who doesn’t have a finger, so.....the dead vote because it might be TOO cruel to the person who has no finger. This country is so damn lost.


27 posted on 10/12/2008 5:09:54 AM PDT by Ann Archy (AbortiDUH!!!on.....The Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: Ann Archy

LOL! Then I would give the fingerless a PURPLE NOSE!


28 posted on 10/12/2008 5:11:48 AM PDT by Fred Nerks
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To: Fred Nerks

tagline


29 posted on 10/12/2008 5:12:39 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (The Democratic Party strongly supports full civil rights for necro-Americans.)
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To: SECURE AMERICA

You wrote: “...unless we find some magical way to prevent the hundreds of methods of fraud, our elections will be little more then a joke....”

And if elections become a joke, what then can we say about our beloved democracy (or rather, republic)?

What sort of government is it that would give me the right to vote, and then allow my vote to be cancelled out by fraudlent voters? Is that true democracy?


30 posted on 10/12/2008 5:27:53 AM PDT by Molly K.
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To: Fred Nerks
Here's some news video.

Here's another one on ACORN's activities in Houston.
31 posted on 10/12/2008 5:51:05 AM PDT by Lord Basil
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To: Fred Nerks
Bring out your dead!
32 posted on 10/12/2008 5:55:35 AM PDT by windsorknot
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To: Fred Nerks

The Dems have been getting the cemetery vote since before LBJ got elected with it the first time.

Wipe out all voter registration rolls
Start new ones
Proof of citizenship and a fingerprint to register
ID to vote, with the technology we have now you could also compare fingerprints
Purple thumbs

What else?


33 posted on 10/12/2008 7:01:17 AM PDT by stickandrudder (Live to fly, Fly to live)
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To: Clemenza

Texas has had a history of voter fraud....LBJ knew all about the dead vote.


34 posted on 10/12/2008 7:03:38 AM PDT by A_Tradition_Continues (formerly known as Politicalwit ...05/28/98...Ain't no Newbie!)
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To: singfreedom

“We do all we can, but you know, we’d rather err on the side of leaving people on the roll instead of taking them off inadvertently,” George Hammerlein, director of Harris County voter registration, told KPRC-Local 2 Investigates.

And there is the problem. This is why ACORN has been allowed to get away with this crap. Nobody is going to do the extra work it would take to ferret these bogus registrations out. Now, they are trying to do something about it. Too little to late in my opinion.

They should have done something months, years ago. They knew there was a big problem in 2000, 2007 and now.

This is why the results of the elections have been so wrong as far as numbers go. I heard last night some town (I did not catch the name) had an increase of voter registration of 147% WTF?

They will do nothing to the persons who did this. It has not only really screwed up the voting rolls, it has sowed the seeds of hatred, mis-trust, and anger between the voting public.

Example of this is the other night I spoke with my brother who is a obama voter and he just unloaded on me. Didn’t really give me a chance to talk to him about the election. We have always been able to banter back and forth with humor. There was a seachange in him I have never experienced before. Anyway I mentioned ACORN and the raid in Nevada. He said “Oh, I see that Bush’s SS is going to steal the election again”. These people do not care how Obama wins, cheating is ok with them. The officals are so scared to call this fraud out for fear of being accused of stealing the election for the Republicans.

I will not hold my breath for any remedy to this.


35 posted on 10/12/2008 8:00:13 AM PDT by waxer1 ( What is the difference between a pitbull and a hockey mom? lipstick-Gov Palin)
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To: stickandrudder

I think that is a great idea. I am all for it. It is so screwed up that is the only choice to fix it.

With exceptions of course: but get rid of the absentee voting as well. Talk about fraud. If you don’t show up and vote too bad. There are exceptions like I said, military, in the hospital, etc....but if you are going on a vacation overseas and will not be in country to vote, too bad.


36 posted on 10/12/2008 8:03:52 AM PDT by waxer1 ( What is the difference between a pitbull and a hockey mom? lipstick-Gov Palin)
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To: kb2614
Zombies like Obama's health care plan.

Obama's health plan probably has budgeted for research to
re-animate Dead Democrats.

And to clone them with Embryonic Stem Cells.

(With Democrats, nothing suprises me.)
37 posted on 10/12/2008 8:07:08 AM PDT by VOA
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To: Fred Nerks

Hi Ho...Hi Ho...It's off to vote we go!

38 posted on 10/12/2008 8:10:04 AM PDT by BulletBobCo
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To: Fred Nerks
The difference..........
The difference between a dead voter in Chicago and in Houston:

Dead voters in Chicago: All vote Democrat!
Dead voters in Houston: Some are Conservative! :-)

39 posted on 10/12/2008 8:15:09 AM PDT by TRY ONE (NUKE the unborn gay whales!)
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To: Fred Nerks

Zombies for Obama

40 posted on 10/12/2008 8:20:15 AM PDT by BulletBobCo
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