St. Louis Sees Specter of Vote Fraud.
March 4, 2001 12:29 AM   Subscribe

St. Louis Sees Specter of Vote Fraud. Chicago hands over the title of Most Vote-Rigged City in America. Remember the Election Day lawsuit that Democrats filed in St. Louis to illegally extend voting hours (which was successful for 45 minutes)? Turns out the chief plaintiff was dead. And that's only one anecdote from this story. Will meaningful election reform ever be allowed in this country, when it would mean closing all the loopholes that are routinely used to rig the results? (NYTimes link, registration required)
posted by aaron (6 comments total)
No way man, Florida still holds the record here, by purging 64,000 legally registered Democrats from the election rolls. That corrupt feint by Katherine Harris and Jeb cost Gore about 22,000 votes.

Regardless, the big parties are playing a round-robin game of cheat-to-win. If there was such a thing as justice, the American people could take out a class action suit against the political duopoly for hijacking the American government. There are a few politicos in the capital with a bit of integrity left — McCain, Wellstone, Bernie — but they are far outnumbered cutthroat careerists like “President” Bush and Clinton.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:26 AM on March 4, 2001

How do you figure that President Bush, who's been in government for six years, is a careerist, and McCain, who's been in government for quite a bit longer and is the very image of a party hack, is not?
posted by drothgery at 7:33 AM on March 4, 2001

A breathless article, there, Aaron -- but a little over the top considering what actually happened. [Note for geographically challenged: Kansas City is in the state of Missouri.]

The investigation found that 135 nonregistered voters were allowed to cast ballots. But a larger number of registered voters were turned away because precinct workers could not find the voters' names -- even though their names were there.... fewer than 100 votes were cast by people who showed up after 7 p.m.

The "dead" plaintiff may have been misidentified by the wrong middle initial.

Of course, that was a report by the outgoing Democratic SOS. The incoming Republican SOS appointed a bipartisan commission that issued its own report. I couldn't find Cook's report anywhere; it was the only one that addressed the facts of individual issues in the St. Louis election.

The basic issue is that Republicans are up in arms about voting permissiveness and Democrats are up in arms about voting restrictions. Naturally, in a heavily Democratic region like St. Louis, this is going to have specific effects on election results depending on which side prevails. Which is the greater error, wrongly denying the vote to a legitimate citizen, or wrongly permitting a vote to someone on a technicality? To my mind, the first is reprehensible in a democracy. Out and out vote fraud is a very serious charge. Anyone who's worked at a polling place knows full well that there are people who have moved and failed to update their registration, who have lost their registration cards, who have just this morning decided they want to vote after all, and so on. The experience in St. Louis was that poll workers attempted to verify scores of questionable registrations on the phone, sometimes using their own money for a pay phone, all through a swamped central office. I don't consider someone slipping through the cracks in either direction, under those circumstances, to be an instance of deliberate vote fraud.

If somebody can be proven to have deliberately voted in two places, by all means fine them. But if their registration was just in the wrong precinct, good grief, don't we have better things to do? If we are in the business of restricting access to the polls only to those who can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are eligible to vote, not only are we eliminating the element of trust that is a key component of democracy, we are placing government in the uncomfortable and highly politicized position of deciding which people are eligible. Far better to have as few restrictions as possible. As things go, we hold elections and 2 out of 3 people don't even show up.
posted by dhartung at 12:00 PM on March 4, 2001

Droth, to me a cut throat careerist will do anything, legal or il, to get his name on the office door. I think that defines our current “President” as well as our last few: Clinton, Bush I, Reagan. Nixon much more so, though.

McCain’s constiutients vote him in by huge margins (~70% in the last election) every time his office is up. That gives him a lot of leeway to go after good legislation (whereas lots of laws are good for people but bad for the establishment), despite commands from party leadership. In that sense, being a party hack is compliment.

Just because Bush II is new to this particular line of work doesn’t mean he didn’t know how to use voter fraud to his advantage.

My major point is simple: How can people support two huge parties that consistently break laws they write, or have major, major ethical transgressions? Don’t you all feel like hypocrites?
posted by capt.crackpipe at 1:22 PM on March 4, 2001

On the morning of the election, as I stood in line to vote, I watched no fewer than six people who were turned away from the polls -- despite carrying reminder postcards issued by the Board of Elections indicating their eligibility to vote in that ward and precinct -- because their names did not appear on the printed rolls. One was my two-doors-down neighbor who has lived in the neighborhood for thirty-some years and voted in every election. Two were mothers with babes in arms who were told that, if they wished to exercise their franchise, they'd have to go downtown to the BOE and wait on line there.

Oh yeah: They were all black.

Later that night on my way home, I drove by the polling place on my way home. It was about 6:30 p.m. with the polls scheduled to close at 7. The line to get in stretched around the building and doubled back on itself. I don't know if everyone waiting was permitted to vote or not. I know when I got home, there was a similar but much longer line shown on live TV outside the BOE.

I love St. Louis. I've lived here for nearly 15 years and don't intend to live anywhere else. But I've worked on statewide and local campaigns and I'll tell you candidly that our city elections board has some major problems. They have less to do with "fraud," however than with that pesky human constant: incompetence.
posted by bradlands at 2:34 PM on March 4, 2001

By the way, in the meantime, the city's top Republican election official has been arrested in an "Internet sex sting" and everyone is waiting to see how that plays out.
posted by bradlands at 2:42 PM on March 4, 2001

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