10-9-2004

Voter fraud? Not in this county


On Saturday the country of Afghanistan will be holding elections for the first time. They expect vote fraud, disruption and voter intimidation. So it looks like the American democracy is catching on over there.--David Letterman

Get involved. That's what they tell us. From the Pottstown Mercury:

Voter fraud suspected in registration deluge

Sharon Spohn , sspohn@pottsmerc.com 10/08/2004

READING -- A backlog of last-minute voter registrations in Berks County is pushing the system to its breaking point, according to election officials.

Director of Elections V. Kurt Bellman told the Board of Elections Thursday that there have been flagrant attempts at voter registration fraud.

"Itís absolutely out of hand," Bellman said. "Not only do we have unintentional duplication of voter registrations but we have blatant duplicate voter registrations."

Bellman said groups conducting voter drives are coming out of the woodwork, something Berks County hasnít seen before. He added that some of the drives are being conducted in violation of the law because they are paying incentives to sign up voters.

Commissioner Mark Scott suggested the Board of Elections conduct its own investigation that would be public rather than create more work for the district attorneyís office.

"Iíd like the public to get more access to the details of fraud," Scott said.

Bellman said his office has had numerous calls from people who were registered through a group called the Association Communication Organization for Reform Now (ACORN), complaining that those taking down the voter information deliberately put inaccurate information on the form.

Bellman said he also received a batch of registrations from Citizens for Consumer Justice in Allentown that contained several hundred forms, including ones that have been held since July and ones with fictitious names and addresses and even wrong counties.

Bellman said he believes itís an attempt to overload the elections office.

"Itís election sabotage," Scott added.

Volunteers are working in the Board of Elections office throughout the day, in the evenings and even on weekends. County officials are asking volunteers to commit to a schedule for volunteering since county workers have to train each volunteer.

Hmmm. Surely, that's the exception, not the rule. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Alleged fraudulent voter cards scrutinized

19 in Hamilton Co. suspected

By Cindi Andrews
Enquirer staff writer

Hamilton County election officials will meet this morning to discuss 19 voter registrations for people who may not exist, which would be a rare case of election fraud.

Board of Elections Director John Williams subpoenaed those named on the voter registration cards after similar handwriting and false addresses raised election workers' suspicions. The sheriff's department could not find them, he said.

The cards were turned in, Williams said, by someone affiliated with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a group that represents low-income people.

"We have a very extensive fraud detecting process," said Dierdre Murch of ACORN. "If this is true, I don't know how they got there."

Officials in Columbus are also investigating possible improprieties by an ACORN worker there.

ACORN has registered more than 1 million new voters nationwide, including 158,036 in Ohio, according to its Web site, www.acorn.org.

Murch said she took 526 new voter registrations to the board of elections late Thursday that the group found in a mismarked box and are asking the board to accept even though the deadline was Monday.

Ohio is under unprecedented scrutiny over its election process this year as a battleground state in what is expected to be a close presidential election. Unprecedented levels of voter interest also resulted in record numbers of new voter registrations.

State and local officials say those factors contributed to an unusually high number of potential election fraud cases. Lake and Summit counties are investigating over 1,000 potential instances of voter registration fraud.

By comparison, Hamilton County's 19 potential fraud cases out of the 68,728 new voter registrations tallied so far appear to be a pretty small number, Board of Elections Chairman Tim Burke said.

The Board of Elections can refer election fraud for prosecution if it decides there was malicious intent. It's a felony and carries a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The only other incidents Burke could remember in his dozen years on the board involved candidate petitions. In 2001, four women were sentenced to 30 days in jail each for signing fake names on petitions they were supposed to be circulating for would-be congressional candidate Jim Condit Jr.

Gee whiz! What an odd coincidence. From the Palm Beach Post:

Voter registration process causes concern

Alleged irregularities in several counties are being probed.
By Dara Kam

Special to The Palm Beach Post

Thursday, October 07, 2004

TALLAHASSEE ó Law enforcement officials are investigating voter registration irregularities in at least three counties in Florida, and election supervisors fear that the problem is so widespread it could lead to massive confusion on Election Day.

Third-party groups, including tax-exempt organizations known as 527s that engage in political activity, have been conducting voter mobilization drives in an attempt to persuade new or apathetic voters to turn out in support of their causes ó mostly Democratic ó on Nov. 2.

But problems with the applications, already reported to authorities in Miami-Dade, Duval, Monroe, Leon, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, could result in people who thought they had registered showing up at the polls only to discover they aren't eligible to vote.

Officials are investigating in Miami-Dade, Leon and Pinellas counties.

Of the forms collected by the voter mobilization groups, many are incomplete, have suspicious signatures or may have been forged, elections officials said Wednesday.

They have created an accountability problem that the legislature is expected to address in the session beginning in March, the incoming Senate president said.

Supervisors are concerned about "the quality and the timeliness of the work being received" and about the lack of accountability for the application-gatherers, said Bill Cowles, Orange County supervisor of elections and president of the statewide supervisors' association.

Supervisors have 15 days after the Oct. 4 closing date to report new registrations to the state Division of Elections. Potential voters whose applications were incomplete or unsigned are out of luck if they did not correct their forms by the deadline.

Applications bundled

Many of the third-party groups delivered bundles of applications, some collected as long ago as January, on the final day. Cowles said he received about 15,000 registration applications Monday, which he called "a disservice to voters."

"It is taking the control, the education and the accuracy of the work out of our hands," he said.

Voters who have not received registration cards by the end of October should call their elections office to check on the status of their applications and to find out where their polling places are, Cowles said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating voter registration irregularities in Miami-Dade County and anticipates more complaints as supervisors sort through the applications, a spokesman said Monday.

In Leon County, elections officials are investigating 1,500 applications, including many from Florida A&M University students that were photocopied. All were for registration as Republicans.

Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho said most of the students contacted by his office indicated they had chosen "No Party Affiliation" and his office registered all of the applicants as independent.

In St. Petersburg, the state attorney's office is investigating allegations that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group pushing the minimum-wage ballot initiative, fraudulently changed party affiliations on voter-registration applications.

Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Theresa LePore said she received dozens of applications collected by an unknown third party at a high school, all completed in the same handwriting and with similar signatures. LePore plans to send them to state elections officials but said the questionable applications left her in a quandary.

The 1995 National Voter Registration Act, known as the "Motor Voter Act," took registration out of the exclusive domain of supervisors.

"It's also opened the door for fraud," LePore said. "We can't investigate unless there's something really glaring."

It is a third-degree felony to lie on a voter registration application, but state law provides for no penalty for those who sign up voters but do not hand in the paperwork or wait until the last minute, depriving voters of the opportunity to make corrections.

Election issues piling up

Legislators almost certainly will address the 527s, the voter registration process and other election issues in March, said incoming Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon. Setting the stage, he said, are legal challenges concerning provisional ballots, touch-screen machine paper trails, voter registration anomalies and the felon purge list.

"Much of it has been designed to lay a legal predicate for litigation in the event that this election is close and Florida's electoral votes are determinative in the outcome of the presidency," Lee said.

Lee, in Tallahassee, said he has told his staff to be prepared for an election challenge if the race is close and the Democrats lose.

"I guarantee you there will be challenges, ad nauseam," he said. "So we might as well get prepared for more satellite trucks in Tallahassee, because you can see them papering the various county courthouses around the state with complaints."


And then there's this from the Times Leader:

By JON FOX

DECISION 2004: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

WILKES-BARRE - Standing behind a mound of completed voter registration forms, Leonard Piazza, director of the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections, weathered a last-minute storm with a smile.

It was, after all, exciting. "I think we're probably making some history here," Piazza said.

Flooded with a wave of residents rushing to register under Monday's deadline, Piazza says the office could tally as many as 15,000 new voters for the year and push new registration in the county to an all-time high.

"All of these people came in here today," Piazza said, touching the growing heap of forms piled on a counter. He estimated 2,000 had passed through the glass doors at the Bureau of Elections to fill out and hand in registrations.

"If we've ever done close to this kind of activity, I think you'd probably have to go back to 1960 when Kennedy ran."

The first Luzerne County resident was waiting outside the locked doors of the office at 9 a.m. and last-minute procrastinators were still creeping in as the clock closed in on 4:30 p.m.

Applications postmarked on Monday will also be accepted by the bureau.

From a starting mark of about 198,000 registered voters at the debut of the year, more than 10,000 new registrations have been processed by staff at the bureau.

"As of this weekend, we broke through the 10,000 new voters milestone," Piazza said.

The pile of new registrations and crates of mailed applications delivered to the office will likely push that number of new voters as high as 15,000, Piazza said.

Monday, the final day to register in Pennsylvania, saw a mix of young and old flowing into the bureau. "I'm very excited to see people who have never registered, never voted," Piazza said.

"We're about one-sixth of what Philadelphia is doing," he said. "That's remarkable."

Philadelphia has clocked the highest number of new voter registrations in 21 years, according to The New York Times.

"The whole state is pretty much overwhelmed," Piazza said.

Al Gore won Pennsylvania by 204,840 votes in 2000, and this year all indications point to a closely contested race. A Quinnipiac Polling Institute poll taken at the end of September had Kerry leading with 46 percent of likely voters to 44 percent for Bush. A CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll also conducted at the end of September had Bush leading with 49 percent of likely voters to 46 percent for Kerry.

So far, new Democratic Luzerne County registrations have outnumbered Republican applications by a factor of two to one, Piazza said.

Busy but managing the sudden uptick in registrations with its six employees, Piazza said the office will do whatever it takes to enter all the forms into the bureau's computerized system and get registration cards out to voters in about three and a half weeks.

Kristine Marcinkowski, a 34-year-old Hunlock Creek resident, was registering to vote for the first time. With two young children she feels compelled to vote in this election.

"I feel my vote counts now," she said. "For their future I need to vote."

Stanley Czapracki, 59, of Nanticoke, came in with his wife, Sandra. He was already registered, but his wife was getting in just under the wire. Both felt this year's election has assumed a great deal of importance.

"There's a lot of issues to consider between the two candidates," he said, adding that he plans to watch the two remaining presidential debates closely.

"I think it's important because there's a war going," Sandra Czapracki said.

Kristen Dopko and Corinne Chonko, both 19, had come straight after their jobs in Plymouth. Both registered to vote for the first time Monday.

This year's election is "the most important since we've been alive," Dopko said.

Yet...the absentee ballots that flooded this very office, albeit early, as the result of a Republican mass-mailing effort were quickly dismissed out of hand. Go figure. This is a Democratic county and it always will be. There is absolutely nothing suspicious about record numbers of new voter applications flooding in all of a sudden. I wonder who my deceased Grandma will vote for. Hmmm. And how many times she'll vote.

Vote often and vote well.--Teresa Heinz Kerry

From the AOL e-mail inbox:

*******Hi Mark,

I hope you have a speedy recovery.
OK You got your smoke detectors from the Fire Department and now received EMS and Vehicle Accident Services from the W-B F.D.
Hopefully that will be the last that you need our services.

Stay Safe,

Tom*******

Stay safe. I hear that. You know, I do try. And I work extremely hard to keep myself thin and in good shape. But there's no accounting for folks that drive around with "Kiss my ass" decals planted on one of the windows of their SUV. Kiss my ass. Yeah. I think that lone decal speaks volumes about their mindset while operating a motor vehicle. I really do.

Surprisssssssssssse!

As far as needing the services of the members of the fire department, your job is much like mine in one respect. Nobody wants to be forced to need my services.

I'll tell ya what though. People can yammer on and on about all of Wilkes-Barre's problems and they tend to do just that. Whatever. Our taxes are too high. Our infrastructure leaves much to be desired. Our streets are a bit too lawless at times. We've heard it all before. But...when I wander away from this nondescript adobe each and every day, I know that if anything reprehensible happens to me, I'll very quickly have the best police and fire departments that this entire region has to offer rushing to assist me. I firmly believe that and nothing that occured last Saturday would cause me to reconsider that belief.

At the same time, however, with professional departments such as we have come the associated costs. It amounts to higher taxes than some of those that reside nearby, but outside of this city's confines are willing to pay. I have no such qualms about the resulting price tag. You certainly get what you pay for and I think our emergency services are clearly second to none.

On that note, I began my day at General Hospital today. More freaking x-rays. This is getting really old like real quick. I did not wish to be mucked up, nor did I do anything to deserve being so mucked up.

After the good folks at the General finally released me, I decided to walk to the Rite Aid on Public Square to get my prescription of bitch-slapping pain killers refilled. I fully realized that such a lengthy walk would accelerate my heart rate, my breathing and consequently result in more rib pain, but I can't help myself. There's always a way to find some exercise no matter what.

By the time I arrived at our downtown Rite Aid, I was in more pain than I otherwise had to be, but I was extremely pleased with myself for even attempting a very mild workout where others in my condition would be near comatose at even the mere thought of such a thing. I handed my Doc's slip to the pharmacist. He returned after less than a minute and told me: "I don't have it in that dosage. I can't fill that."

The creative expletives that immediately rushed towards my tongue never did escape my parsed lips, but I think my rather abrupt body language and such gave him a pretty good hint that he will not be getting a Christmas gift from this household. Dork!

I've had better weeks.

Kiss my ass!


Yes. I finally went and bought myself...

...a new 'puter gizmo.

It's crazy. I spent half of what I spent on the older one, but this bugger makes the older one look like a Model T in comparison. I will proceed to work it's electronic ya-yas off.

What did we think of the...

...second presidential debate?

I find it hilarious that John Kerry is poking fun at Bush's demeanor again. I find it equally hilarious that he is pointing to Bush's eagerness to engage as proof that he is not fit to lead. The proof in the pudding is supposedly when Bush interrupted the moderator in an attempt to totally debunk one of Kerry's half-truths.

Follow me here. Bush should be criticized for attempting to debate during a "debate" where no actual debating was allowed??? Are we all suddenly mentally retarded beyond reproach?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Kerry is all bluster. Got that?

"He sucks. Everything he ever did sucks. I don't suck. I've got a trillion dollar remedy for everything that sucks. Details? How dare you? Go to JohnKerry.com and see them for yourself. Did I tell you that he sucks?"

Another clueless and patrician policy wonk. Al Gore II.


What's the scoop on this...

...guy that reviews all of the local shows for the Voice?

Where did they find this guy? What restaurant tabletop did they flip over and scrape him off of?

Tons of folks with certifiable musical talent have appeared locally and his reviews often rank them much lower than the vaunted 1910 Fruitgum Company. Basically, he seems to be a complete naysayer where talent is concerned unless the show involved has some artsy-fartsy value to it, so to speak. Especially the acts appearing at the Kirby.

If it doesn't appeal to the high falootin' folks that seek culture in an attempt to add to their already impressive (?) cultural resume, then it just doesn't seem to measure up to his highest of the high standards.

STOMP???

We should rush downtown to see STOMP, but Def Leppard sucks?

"This is performance art at it's finest."

"STOMP is choreographed poetry with a beat."

People prancing around a stage banging on aluminum garbage can lids is praised as "performance art?" Is he f**king serious? Eight people jiggling wildly and "playing" their amplified Zippos impresses this guy?

Holy Mother of frig! If this guy ever accidentily wandered into a Frank Marino & Mahagony Rush gig, he'd probably get himself raped, and his girlfriend beat up. As long as the Kirby adamantly refuses to book any act that would appeal to anyone other than the social sophisticates among us, it'll continue be the second-rate draw that it always has been in a seriously challenged downtown environment.

Want consistent and sizable crowds down there? Give us some AC/DC. How about some Andrew Dice Clay? Triumph? Bill O'Reilly? Dare I say? Zappamania.

Nah. Couldn't have any of that. The aging trophy wives would never stand for that and then the generous contributions to the Kirby would dry up. In other words, it would become a truly public venue, rather than the hang-out of the all-inclusive wonderful people.

...steel drums, match packs and bristled brooms.

HELLO!!! Alexander? Did your parents have any children that lived?

Thanks

Gotta go. Remember, I got this new 'spensive 'puter thingie. The WebTv e-mail address is now moot. The AOL address is my new, er, old home. You know, Zorcong@aol.com. Give me a buzz.

I'm about to mix some generic painkillers with some alcohol and some Pink Floyd.

Comfortably numb.

Bye