Government Technology

At Issue: Dead Men Voting

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One Person One Vote?

March 19, 2012 By

We may exult with voters in the Middle East who hold up their purple thumbs as evidence that they have voted and cannot cast another ballot — presuming the dye can stand multiple washings. We may watch YouTube videos of voters in Russia stuffing stacks of ballots into ballot scanners and dismiss it as a pothole on the road from hammer and sickle to democracy. But we Americans shouldn't feel too self-satisfied. We have our own problems with counting the vote.

In Means of Ascent, author Robert Caro details a close 1948 Texas Senate primary race between Lyndon Johnson and Coke Stevenson, in which the race went down to the wire. Stevenson appeared to have won until 200 supposedly "overlooked" ballots were found in Ballot Box 13, in Alice, Texas -- 198 for Johnson and two for Stevenson. Johnson won by a few votes, but the charge of ballot box stuffing followed him the rest of his life.

And who can forget the 2000 presidential election beteween George W. Bush and Al Gore, as the outcome rested on a few disputed counties in Florida, which devolved into recounts over disputed ballots — think "hanging chads" and "butterfly ballots" — which could have changed the outcome, depending on which way voter intent was ajudicated.

The Florida Supreme Court ordered another recount, the U.S. Supreme Court overrruled it and declared George W. Bush the winner. And even though Gore won the popular vote, Bush won the Electoral College vote and therefore the election. The rest, as they say, is history.

And then, in 2008, electronic voting machines hit the fan, specifically "direct recording electronic" devices that recorded the vote, but didn't provide enough assurances that the vote was recorded correctly or hadn't been tampered with. Leading the fight for accuracy and accountability in the devices were California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, among others.

Now, in 2012, as Republican challengers fight it out, and Vice President Joe Biden launches the Obama campaign, another challenge to "one person. one vote" has arisen, also documented on YouTube. Activists — including one who seems to have a British accent — arrived at New Hampshire polling stations assuming the names of deceased voters to see if they could cast ballots. It turns out they could, and as pointed out at length, no identification is required in New Hampshire. The name is checked off the voter rolls — so dead people can only vote once, which should be some comfort to those worried about voter fraud. And by the way, voter fraud is quite a serious offense in this country, if that is any deterrent. For the record, the activists say they didn't submit the ballots.

Could the British be attempting to suborn the electorial process? Will Queen Elizabeth — as a write-in candidate — win a primary for county assessor or New Hampshire state senator on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee?

At Issue: Does the principle of one person one vote still hold, and will the 2012 presidential election accurately reflect the will of the people who are still alive? Leave your comments below.

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Chris 54    |    Commented March 20, 2012

ID's can be forged pretty easily. (and nobody at the polling station is looking at them that carefully) If you were trying to fix a election, it would be more cost effeciant and easier today to do it at the 'voting machine' then trying to get hundreds (thousands) of people to try and run around from polling place to polling place trying to vote (they would have to already know that the dead person is registered to vote) We have created a solution looking for a problem, except the solution doesn't solve a thing.

SpotLight    |    Commented March 20, 2012

A government ID is needed to establish a medicare, medicaid, or insurance account with a doctor, to get on an airplane, to cash a check, to buy liquor, to pick up an order at Walmart, to meet with a Social Security rep, and on and on. The assertions that IDs should not be required to vote and that the some people can't easily get an ID has only one possible basis - to facilitate voter fraud.

Chris 54    |    Commented March 20, 2012

Which volunteer at the polling station is qualified to tell if a ID is real or a fake??? What state do you want a fake ID for? One can be delieved overnight, just provide a name, address and picture. A lot of outrage for nothing. I'd be more worried about the machines and their applications, since that is where you could 'steal' a election.

Johnfhall    |    Commented March 20, 2012

The concept of having a stake in the country, such as, owning real property, puts a mark of ownership in the decision. (which was at one time the rule) If you are paying taxes, and involved in your community by investing in property, you are more likely to be aware of the real issues. On the other hand if you are only taking what the government has to hand out, you will be for the big government, lots of free stuff mindset. It is an easy one to call, people who are on the free ride train, vote for those who give the free ride. Again and again.

Chris 54    |    Commented March 20, 2012

Most of the folks that are on the so-called "free ride" don't care and don't vote. If you think that the life they have is so good, Im sure I can find a whole lot who would gladly switch lives with you. The odds of success is always greater, when you start off running. With all the hoop-a-la about 2008, the percentage of voters who voted was down when compared to 2004.

SpotLight    |    Commented March 20, 2012

Chris54 - Polling place workers are not volunteers. They are trained and paid by the elections administrator. Have you ever boarded an airplane and observed how TSA workers validate an ID? You mail order ID would not cut it. Sorry.

SpotLight    |    Commented March 20, 2012

"Most of the folks that are on the so-called "free ride" don't care and don't vote. " LOL. You have obviously never been to a polling place at an urban location. The entire agenda for democrat politicians since 1965 has been to buy votes from the unproductive using revenues extracted from the taxpayers.

Chris 54    |    Commented March 20, 2012

It depends on the community. Some are paid, some are not.

Chris 54    |    Commented March 20, 2012

They are paid volunteers. They are not employees. Large cities might pay $150 for the day, smaller ones less or nothing. My city pays $8 a hour. They have 15 hours of training on the proper process. Nothing on how to verify a fake D/L from a real one.

Chris 54    |    Commented March 20, 2012

I've been a Republican observer for the last 2 presidential elections. Sorry, I don't buy the BS from either side.

Bruce    |    Commented March 20, 2012

I don't think that there is anything in the U.S. Constitution that says dead people can't vote. If there are state laws that say that dead people can't vote, then they need to be changed. Dead people do not drain our Social Security or Medicare, and are not a drain on the economy or the environment. They are some of our most responsible citizens. This is a clear case of discrimination.

wayne hanson    |    Commented March 20, 2012

Reminds me of a blog I saw about the "upside" of death

eleanor hare    |    Commented March 21, 2012

The Voter Photo ID bill recently passed in South Carolina makes no mention of periodic update. If I had obtained a photo ID when I registered in 1964, I could still be using the same photo ID. Do you think I still look like I did 48 years ago? With no requirement for renewal, what use is the SC photo ID other than to disenfranchise some group of citizens?

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