Skip to comments.Conservatives Should Work as Election Judges to Prevent Voter Fraud
Posted on 10/25/2002 6:56:36 AM PDT by antivenom
Conservatives consistently speak of grassroots this and grassroots that. We seem to view the word grassroots as meaning the little things to get out the vote such as block walking for candidates or making phone calls.
There seems to be so much build up to the day of the election that once election day rolls around, the grassroots idea seems to be put away last cycle's yard signs. For those that do the block walking and make the phone calls, one would think they would like to see their work pay off in the long run.
Grassroots people need to understand maybe the most important of all the grassroots work: Working the polls on election day, in one way or another. Conservatives must begin to take back the election process where so many wrongs are committed and fraud runs rampant.
I recently worked as an election judge in northern Harris County where the voters decided on emergency services, water board members, and some municipal tax bond raises. The precinct I worked had just shy of 9,800 voters. In that same precinct, 29 voters showed up on election day with 5 going to the polls during early voting. For those without a degree in mathematics, that's 34 voters who voted out of nearly 9,800 voters. Each person who voted in the election, basically voted for and represented the votes of 288 people.
Now this column is not about voter apathy; there could be encyclopedia-length studies written on that subject. The issue here is what a dishonest election judge can do on an extremely slow day where a few votes can make a huge difference. It doesn't take an army of people to help prevent the type of fraud that can take place here. One person can monitor and work the polls with an election judge or even be a poll watcher. In precincts where people decide to vote in place of their friend who "forgot" to vote that day, all it takes is the election judge to open the poll book, sign in the voters place, then cast a ballot so their voice can be heard, AGAIN.
Those who work with election judges or monitor the polls as a poll watcher can get all the training they need from fellow election experts. This seems to be such a fundamental idea, but it can make all the difference. When one voter can cast a ballot to speak for 288 fellow voters, someone has to stand up and take notice of the possibilities for wrongs to be committed here.
An election judge is supposed to have an alternate judge from the political party opposite that judge. Sometimes election judges cannot find an alternate judge from the other party so they find anybody, even a member of the same party. In a situation where the possibility of casting that extra ballot illegally is taken away, the fundamental right to vote is preserved.
Even in a situation where an election judge is the only person working the polls, things can also get too hectic at times to carefully monitor the voters in the polling place while attending to others. There are rules in polling places pertaining to the use of cell phones, displaying of campaign literature, removal of materials left by previous voters in the voting booths, illegal electioneering, talking, and the list goes on.
All the work, all the phone calls, all the walking, and all the envelope stuffing can be for nothing if the election is fraudulently administered. The effort taken to monitor the polls is well worth it, for it defends our basic right to make our voice heard with an honestly run election.
To drive home the point, think about this election law that you see broken every time there is an election. Rule 61.001 of the Texas Election Code states that no person, other than for the purpose of voting, may enter a polling place. That may seem harmless enough on the surface. But remember, this includes the media. The media is NOT allowed inside the polling place. How often do you see the news on election day and there is a TV camera and a reporter in a polling place watching candidates cast ballots as well as former presidents?
The point to understand is that these laws are there and some people have no idea about the laws. These laws are easily broken. And when laws are being broken this easily, how many other laws are dishonest or inattentive election judges or poll watchers failing to enforce.
The March primary is right around the corner. Being that these primaries are run by each party, there is likely to be less fraud involved, although a carefully placed, dishonest election judge could try to swing an election for a particular candidate. Contact your local party office and find out how to train to be an election judge or an election worker.
There will most likely be another election in April for run-offs in certain areas. The point being, get involved now, while there are elections taking place. You do get paid to be an election judge or worker, so it's not like volunteering your time for free. Get the training now, so that in November, you're ready to combat the voter fraud that is likely to occur in very important races, in a critical off year election. When you've worked an election and done your part on that very important day, you've done your part for the grassroots effort.
We've read them before, we've heard them before, but the words of Edmund Burke in 1780 hold true today as they did 222 years ago when the prevention of vote fraud is possible, "The only thing necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing".
U.S. National - AP
Dems, GOP Focus on Voter Rights Tue Oct 8, 5:47 PM ET By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrats say they'll be monitoring polling places around the country, and especially in Florida, to make sure that all people entitled to vote get to cast their ballots on Nov. 5. Republicans say they'll also be watching for vote fraud.
Democratic national Chairman Terry McAuliffe said he's asking the Justice Department (news - web sites) to send poll monitors to every county in Florida because of the problems that occurred in the 2000 presidential election and again in the Democratic primary for governor Sept. 10.
He criticized Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, younger brother of President Bush (news - web sites), for the continuing problems.
"Jeb Bush is the governor of the state of Florida, he is in charge of all 67 counties, and we will only hold the governor to his own words," McAuliffe said. Bush had said his state would become a positive election example "and less than two years later they become a laughingstock," the Democrat said.
Bush campaign spokesman Todd Harris said the governor should not be held accountable for problems in two of 67 counties.
"The only people in the nation who believe it is the governor's job to turn on the lights at 7 a.m. at every polling location seem to be Terry McAuliffe and the members of the Democratic National Committee (news - web sites)," Harris said.
Justice Department spokesman Jorge Martinez said he was not aware of any McAuliffe request for poll monitoring.
Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites) is beginning a pre-election effort directing federal prosecutors across the country to coordinate with state officials to prevent election fraud and voting rights violations.
McAuliffe said bipartisan legislation on election changes could help resolve many problems in the long run, but he said they will not take effect by this election.
"What we have instead of reform is this patchwork of different laws, different standards and different systems," he said. "No consistency, no uniformity, no rhyme or reason."
He said the Democratic Party would help monitor the elections around the country because many systems have not been upgraded after widespread problems in 2000. Democrats are setting up a hotline to give voters help if they have trouble.
The effort will be led by the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, led by longtime party activist Donna Brazile. The institute held hearings to gather information about voting rights violations and worked in New Jersey and Virginia to help voters with problems.
"How do you motivate eligible voters to participate in the political process when they have no confidence in our voting system?" she asked, noting the Democrats' effort will attempt to allay any fears.
Republican national spokesman Jim Dyke said, "If Democrats are focusing on getting people to the polls and making sure the law is followed, we think that's a positive development."
But Dyke said one of the problems to watch closely on Election Day is duplicate registration and voting.
"It's important to note that we've completed ... cleaning up our voter file and found 722,205 duplicate registrations around the country," Dyke said. He said the Republicans found several thousand duplicate votes.
"With that many duplicate registrations," he said, "it will be helpful to have Democrats as well as Republicans to make sure everybody who wants to vote can - and only once."
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