Sunday, October 19, 2008

GOP ELECTION FRAUD SOARS

Seattle Post Intelligencer - King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, a Republican, said last year that the ACORN case in Seattle had nothing to do with manipulating outcomes and everything to do with the workers' efforts to keep their $8-an-hour jobs. If anyone was defrauded, it was ACORN, an acronym for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. "The defendants ... cheated their employers to get paid for work they did not actually perform," Satterberg said. "The defendants simply realized that making up names was easier than actually canvassing the streets." In the Seattle case, temporary workers hired by ACORN for a voter registration drive gathered at the downtown Seattle library to fill out bogus registration forms. They copied names from newspaper stories -- such as those of actress Katie Holmes, New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera and New York Times columnist Frank Rich -- pulled them from baby-name books and telephone directories or just made them up.

They wrote in the addresses of homeless shelters for a majority of the 1,762 phony registrations they turned in to elections officials. But that's as far as it went. In accordance with procedures, elections workers submit the information from any registration they receive to the state's computerized voter system. But if the identification numbers also required on a registration form -- typically, a driver's license number, or the last four digits of a Social Security number -- fail to match up with the voter names in the appropriate databases, the registration is flagged. It county workers can't clear up the discrepancy, the would-be voter is provisionally registered: For poll voters, that means they must show identification at the polling place to vote, and for absentee voters, it means they must mail in proper identification documents with their ballot for the ballot to be validated and counted. Provisional registrations are canceled after two federal election cycles if they are not validated. In the case of the fraudulent ACORN registrations, they were cancelled last year as a result of the criminal investigation, which was triggered when elections workers noticed similarities in handwriting for many signatures on the registration forms. No votes were cast based on those registrations.

Black Box Voting - A firm called Automated Election Services was found to have miscoded the system in heavily Democratic Santa Fe County, New Mexico such that straight party voters would not have the presidential vote counted. Straight party voting is allowed in 15 states. Basically, it means that you can take a shortcut to actually looking at who you are voting for and instead just select a party preference. Then the voting machine makes your candidate choices, supposedly for the party you requested.



Time - Experts say many campus precincts are sorely unprepared to meet student demand. And laws passed after the 2004 election, ostensibly to clamp down on voter fraud, could cause a slew of new problems that disproportionately hit student voters. Which means the question in 2008 isn't whether young voters deliver. "It's can the young voters deliver?" says Matthew Segal, executive director of the Student Association for Voter Empowerment. . . Because local officials have wide latitude in interpreting election laws that vary from state to state, misunderstandings - or misinformation - could have an even greater impact this year than in 2004, given the anticipated bulge in student turnout. Most of the trouble comes from nailing down where college students should be counted as residents if they attend school in one state but go home to another during the holidays. The Supreme Court's position is clear: a 1979 ruling found that all students have the right to vote where they attend college. But local officials often make students travel a rocky road. In recent months, registrars in counties including Montgomery, Va. (home to Virginia Tech), Greenville, S.C. (Furman University), and most recently El Paso, Colo. (Colorado College), issued warnings that were off-putting if not outright alarming: students who register in their college town could be ineligible to be claimed as dependents on their parents' tax returns and might be in danger of losing tuition scholarships. The problem, according to youth-voter advocates and the IRS, was that these dire warnings were incorrect. After widespread outrage, the registrars backed off. But experts worry that the resulting confusion could sour first timers on voting altogether. "It's creating somewhat of a chilling effect," says Steve Fenberg, executive director of the youth civic action group New Era Colorado.

Orlando Sentinel - About 1,245 Orange County residents were erroneously mailed letters last week stating they were ineligible to vote in the upcoming election, the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office confirmed. Officials blamed the problem on a computer glitch. The letters were intended to confirm voters' registration information. However, a glitch inserted an additional sentence stating the voter was ineligible to vote in the Nov. 4 election, said Linda Tanko, a supervisor at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office. Tanko said the elections office will send corrected letters.

West Virginia Gazette -
Three Putnam County voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans when they cast early ballots last week. This is the second West Virginia county where voters have reported this problem. Last week, three voters in Jackson County told The Charleston Gazette their electronic vote for "Barack Obama" kept flipping to "John McCain". In both counties, Republicans are responsible for overseeing elections. Both county clerks said the problem is isolated. They also blamed voters for not being more careful.

LA Times - Dozens of newly minted Republican voters say they were duped into joining the party by a GOP contractor with a trail of fraud complaints stretching across the country. Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed.

It is a bait-and-switch scheme familiar to election experts. The firm hired by the California Republican Party -- a small company called Young Political Majors, or YPM, which operates in several states -- has been accused of using the tactic across the country. Election officials and lawmakers have launched investigations into the activities of YPM workers in Florida and Massachusetts. In Arizona, the firm was recently a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit. Prosecutors in Los Angeles and Ventura counties say they are investigating complaints about the company. The firm, which a Republican Party spokesman said is paid $7 to $12 for each registration it secures, has denied any wrongdoing and says it has never been charged with a crime.

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