Peter Ferrara: Voter Fraud
This op-ed originally appeared in The American Spectator on October 22, 2008.
In 1980, fresh out of school and working on Wall Street, I also worked for the Reagan campaign. I had the job every night at around 11 p.m. of going to Times Square and getting one of the first copies of the next day’s New York Times. I would take it to the Reagan New York City headquarters in midtown Manhattan, where a phone number would be left for me as to where the traveling Reagan campaign party was staying that night. My job was to cut out the articles in the Times covering the Presidential campaign and “quip” (an early fax) them to the hotel where the Reagan party was staying.
As the election neared, I learned that the campaign high command had decided that Reagan would probably not win unless he racked up a vote margin of 2-3%. That was what was thought necessary to overcome Democrat big city machine voter fraud.
On Election Day, I was part of a team working to counter that fraud in New York City. A couple of us went to heavily Democrat neighborhoods to see what was going on. One of those was the orthodox Jewish Williamsburg neighborhood. A van was driving through the streets blaring something over and over in Yiddish. I asked my Jewish partner what the van was blaring. He said the van’s message was “Vote for Reagan. He’s the only hope.” I knew then that Reagan would win, as he did 51% to 41%.
Extensive voter fraud has persisted to this day. Former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky discusses in a recent Heritage Foundatioin report a shocking 1982 election for Governor in Illinois in which 10% of the votes cast in Chicago, 100,000 overall, were found to be fraudulent by a federal grand jury investigation that produced 63 criminal convictions for vote fraud. Spakovsky writes:
What particularly struck FBI agent Ernest Locker was how routine vote fraud was for the precinct captains, election judges, poll watchers, and political party workers he interviewed. They had been taught how to steal votes (and elections) by their predecessors, who had in turn been taught by their predecessors.
One primary method of perpetuating such fraud was for impersonators to vote in the name of dead people, people who had moved away, and fraudulently registered names. Impersonators were sometimes paid in cigarettes, liquor, or cash, known in the trade as “walking around money.” Votes for a straight Democrat ticket, regardless of the actual voter’s preferences, were also cast for the elderly, the disabled, and the sick who were unaware of what was going on. Then Chicago U.S. Attorney Dan Webb estimated that 80,000 illegal aliens were registered to vote in the city at the time, and that was 25 years ago.
Precinct captains filled out absentee ballots obtained by others, and absentee ballots with Republican votes were trashed. Another method was to alter the vote count by repeatedly running straight party line ballots through the counting machine, or altering the counting machine vote totals.
Unfortunately, as Spakovsky notes, the Justice Department has never again engaged in such a thorough investigation of vote fraud. Most likely, the practice continues in Chicago today. Moreover, similar practices have recently been exposed in Philadelphia, where sometimes more votes are cast than the number of residents, and in Wisconsin and Tennessee.
The problem of voter fraud today is thoroughly revealed in a recent book by Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy (Encounter Books). One of the best features of that book is that it reveals what really happened in Florida in 2000: The Democrats tried to steal the election for Gore, but failed.
On the day after the election, Bush was declared the winner in Florida by 1,784 votes. Gore kept demanding broader and broader recounts, which were conducted in heavily Democrat counties mostly by Democrat party officials. Bush’s margin kept declining, but he kept winning the recounts by hundreds of votes. Finally, Gore won a decision by the notoriously liberal fiction writers on the Florida Supreme Court, who began rewriting Florida election law to require a new statewide hand recount without clear uniform standards for each county. Both because the state court was changing the election rules as specified by the legislature, and because the counties would do the recount without uniform statewide standards, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the mandated recount violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. With the recounts ended, the Florida Secretary of State declared Bush the final winner by 537 votes.
After all the shouting was over, a consortium of major news organizations conducted their own thorough Florida recount. Despite well-developed Democrat mythology, supported by an idiotically irresponsible HBO movie on the controversy, the New York Times reported the results as follows: “A comprehensive review of the uncounted Florida ballots from last year’s presidential election reveals that George W. Bush would have won even if the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed the statewide manual recount of the votes that the Florida Supreme Court had ordered to go forward.”
But Fund shows that only widespread Democrat vote fraud made the election as close as it was. The highly liberal Palm Beach Post conducted an investigation concluding that the county had illegally allowed 5,600 convicted felons to vote. Felons, of course, vote overwhelmingly for Democrats, apparently seeing them as soul mates. By contrast, Democrat lawyers won a motion to disqualify 1,420 military ballots because they didn’t have a foreign postmark (which most likely resulted because the ballots were sent back through the U.S. military rather than foreign post offices). Those serving in the U.S. armed forces overwhelmingly vote Republican.
The national TV networks declared that Florida’s polls were closed at 7 p.m. Eastern time, even though the polls in the heavily Republican Florida panhandle were still open for another hour because they are in Central time. Fund notes that CBS broadcast 33 erroneous statements between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. that Florida’s polls were closed. NBC followed almost immediately by other networks even called the state for Gore at 7:48 pm Eastern time. Fund cites Democrat and Republican pollsters, as well as academics, who concluded that this cost Bush a net loss of close to 10,000 votes.
Most importantly of all, Fund conducts a detailed analysis of Palm Beach County election return anomalies, buttressed by local interviews, to conclude that Bush was deprived of another 15,000 votes through a little scam known as double punching. After the polls closed, Democrat election officials appeared to have taken dozens of the punch hole ballots at a time, and punched through the little box for Gore on all of them, using a nail or pencil. For ballots that had been voted for Bush, this would have resulted in invalid ballots that appeared to have been punched for both Bush and Gore. For ballots that had been voted for Gore, this would have had no effect, because the nail or pencil would have just pushed through a box that had already been punched out for Gore.
Fortuitously, what Gore was trying to do by seeking recount after recount in Florida was demonstrated in the Governor’s race in the state of Washington in 2004. On election night that year, Republican Dino Rossi had apparently won the Governor’s race over Democrat Christine Gregoire by 3,000 votes.
Washington is comprised of heavily Democrat Seattle and King County, surrounded by a sea of Republican counties. Democrats in King County first focused on provisional ballots that were legally invalid because they were not signed or the signatures did not match the voter registration on record. (Provisional ballots are ballots that are cast because the voter does not appear on the registration rolls, so his vote is taken and kept to be verified later if possible.) Even though federal law requires the identity of such voters to be kept private, the Democrats found a judge who ordered that the names and addresses of these provisional voters be given to the Democrat party so they could go to the residence of each one and get the signatures straightened out.
Doing this only in the overwhelmingly Democrat county but not the others obviously would generate a lot more votes for the Democrat candidate. Fund further reports how the process worked, writing, “Democrats spent the next three days knocking on doors and speed dialing voters.Democrat volunteers asked if voters had cast ballots for Ms. Gregoire. ‘If they say no we just tell them to have a nice day,’.Only if they said yes did the Democrats ask if they wanted to make their ballots valid.” Gregoire got a net gain of 400 votes this way.
Then just two days before the final vote was to be certified, King County announced that it had found another 10,000 absentee ballots. Rossi’s lead was soon down to 261 votes. That was enough to require a mandatory machine recount of all votes. Fund reports, “But in King County the recount went beyond running the ballots through the counting machines. Officials there ‘enhanced’ 710 votes that had been rejected by the machines, in some cases altering them with white out or filling in the ovals on the optical scan ballots.” This netted another 219 votes for Gregoire, reducing Rossi’s lead to 42 votes.
Democrats demanded and won yet another statewide hand recount. During that recount, heavily Democrat King County found another 561 ballots, more than a month after the election, that had been rejected because election officials couldn’t find the voter’s original signature in the registration records. Two days later, they found another 22 ballots hidden in voting machines that were already in storage, not sealed and secured in any boxes. “Another treasure hunt turned up 150 more votes that had been mistakenly put into storage,” Fund reports. Meanwhile, in the hand recount, officials in King County decided they wouldn’t automatically reject “overvote” ballots where the voter had mistakenly marked the ballot for both Rossi and Gregoire. These ballots were forwarded to the canvassing board, which somehow determined that some of these ballots were intended for the Democrat.
Fund reports, “The vote changes piled up so that by December 21, Ms. Gregoire took the lead by eight votes. Democrats promptly claimed victory.Ms. Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes two days before Christmas. She praised the whole process as ‘a model for the rest of the nation and the world at large.'” This is how democracy has been suspended in Washington state for the last four years.
This is also what Gore was trying to do in Florida. Keep demanding recounts, until Democrat party election officials in heavily Democrat counties could find, create, manufacture, or rule in enough votes for Gore to take the lead. Then the counting would be over.
Today, these same vote fraud schemes are being conducted nationwide under the auspices of the far left extremist group ACORN, the Left’s equivalent of the John Birch Society. ACORN is a rogue organization growing out of the 1960s that openly flouts the law as a matter of strategic policy, engaging in physical intimidation, trespass, threatening behavior, even outright violence. It has taken over meetings, throwing out speakers, invaded and occupied businesses, demanding payoffs, and seized unoccupied homes and apartments, forcibly claiming the right to stay.
These same attitudes have been carried over to its so-called voter projects, where ACORN has been caught breaking the law all over the country for years now. ACORN has hired more than 13,000 workers this year to register new voters in 21 states, producing 1.3 million new registrations nationwide. ACORN workers have registered voters in the name of Fruto Boy Crispa, Stormi Bays, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys, in Nevada. In Ohio, where ACORN has conducted a massive voter registration drive this year, 200,000 new registrations have been found with mismatches with state records. Batches of ACORN registration applications are often submitted in the same handwriting, including the supposed voter signatures. A voter registration form ACORN submitted in Connecticut was in the name of a 7-year-old girl. In other places, ACORN has submitted illegal registrations for felons, or even prison inmates, and in the names of pets.
In 2007, after 97% of voter registration applications submitted by ACORN in Seattle were found to be fraudulent, prosecutors indicted seven ACORN workers who later confessed. Another four indicted ACORN workers in Kansas City pled guilty to registration fraud, as did eight others in St. Louis this year. Nevada officials recently raided the ACORN office in Las Vegas looking for evidence of vote fraud.
Nate Toler, an ACORN organizer, is quoted by Ivan Osorio at HumanEvents.com as saying, “There’s no quality control on purpose, no checks and balances. The internal motto is ‘We don’t care if it’s a lie, just so long as it stirs up the conversation.'” Former ACORN Miami-Dade field director Mac Stuart reports that ACORN threw out Republican registrations but paid cash for Democrat registrations. “The voter registration project has been operating illegally since it started,” he recently told one newswire. Criminal investigations regarding ACORN voter drives are currently under way in 15 states this year, along with an FBI investigation.
Barack Obama has long had close ties to ACORN, with its home base in Chicago. He actually ran ACORN’s Project Vote in Chicago. He conducted training seminars on voter registrations and voting practices for ACORN workers and volunteers, as well as on the community organizing principles of openly socialist revolutionary Saul Alinsky. In the 1990s, when Obama was running radical left foundations along with confessed domestic terrorist bomber Bill Ayers, the radical socialist revolutionary from the notorious Weather Underground, he provided funding to ACORN. Obama’s campaigns for political office have always been endorsed by ACORN, which has helped him with fundraising. This year Obama’s campaign gave over $800,000 to ACORN precisely for voter registration and turnout projects.
In a speech last year to ACORN, Obama said, as quoted by Fund, “I’ve been fighting alongside of ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it.” Fund also reports:
ACORN also runs something called “Camp Obama,” which trains campaign volunteers in the same tactics that Obama honed as a community organizer. Another program, called the Obama Organizing Fellows, is designed to train people in how to “organize in a community, working in conjunction with grassroots leaders and campaign staff.” [Jerry] Kellman [of ACORN] has said that the Obama campaign uses elements of both the practical and aggressive Alinsky method.
If you want to fight back and defend America’s democracy from these attacks, visit www.defendmyvote.com, sponsored by one of the organizations I work for, the American Civil Rights Union. There you can sign a national petition to state election officials all over the country demanding that they strictly enforce the law against voter fraud. You can also read more about voter fraud in this year’s election, and learn about other ways to fight back.