(Raleigh, NC)–MAY 26, 2014–We didn’t quite run into zombies with “I Voted” stickers in the hallway last week at the Legislature, but we were stunned to learn there is movement afoot to change the law regarding dead voters: If passed, the measure will legalize counting the votes of people who die before Election Day, which is alarming because it re-opens the door to much mischief that will be difficult to detect and deter.
Two years ago, our group made headlines by finding nearly 30,000 deceased voters on the NC voter rolls. Our discovery marked the first time we had ever heard of a guy named Marshall Tutor–the lone state employee whose job was to investigate voter fraud. Since there was “no vote fraud” under the Gary Bartlett regime, I imagined he “worked” more like the Maytag Repairman: just sitting around, waiting for the phone to ring. He first appeared on our radar when he was quoted in the news, saying (or perhaps taunting) that, none of the 30,000 people we identified to them had actually voted . . . and for the most part, he was right!
The only dead voters we actually “caught voting” were either obvious administrative errors or people who passed away after casting an absentee ballot. Since the law treats all absentee ballots alike, the concept is that absentee ballots are for voters who cannot show up on Election Day.
The votes are supposed to be thrown out if they belong to people who suddenly become ineligible to vote Election Day. For example, if someone renounces their US citizenship or becomes a felon before Election Day, they’re not allowed to vote, so their absentee ballot can be tossed out. It may seem petty, but you also have to be alive in order for your ballot to count.
That simple concept makes it easy to draw a line on deceased voters. Anybody can confirm the voter is deceased and have the ballot pulled before the race is certified. Clean and simple.
Enter Rev. Mark Harris. During his US Senate campaign, he told how his WWII-era father had recently voted before passing away. I never heard Mark say it, but several claimed he was using his father death as a heart-tugging motivation for people to vote early. Lost in the story of the late Everett Harris was the minor detail that . . . um . . . his vote wasn’t supposed to count.
In any event, somebody got annoyed and alerted the Election Board on Mr. Harris’ ballot. The Forsyth BOE voted 3-0 to pull the ballot. It was just one vote, but it had a big impact; because last week, a well-placed staffer confirmed that somebody was pushing a measure to change the law in such a way that Mr. Everett Harris’ ballot would have counted. The idea sounds so “compassionate” that the (Warren) Buffet-owned Winston Salem newspaper wrote a guilt-inducing editorial in favor of the new (old) idea of counting the ballots of dead people. From a fraud-prevention approach, the Harris Rule will reopen a king-sized box of Pandora!
In the new concept (let’s call it, “Dead Voter or DV 2.0”) , the must-be-alive date would shift around, depending on when the ballot was cast. If somebody voted absentee, as soon as the ballots were printed, in early September and dies shortly thereafter, DV 2.0 would allow the ballot to count. It’s very “compassionate,” but there would be no way to discern the difference between that scenario and something more pernicious.
For example, who is going to match each voter’s exact date of death with the date he/she signed the ballot? What audit system is going to prevent somebody from looking up people in the obituaries and stealing their identities at the polls? The practice of dead voting has pretty much been eliminated in NC, but DV 2.0 will reopen that franchise.
And more ominously, we already know of despicable activists who take advantage of the mentally incompetent among us by “harvesting their votes” at places like drug-rehab shelters, mental hospitals and group homes. One such case made national news in Nov 2012 when a Roanoke Rapids man found out his (mentally 7-year-old) daughter had been secreted out of an Easter Seals group home after being drilled on how to vote (he told me) for President Obama. The poor child didn’t know what planet she lived on and didn’t know the difference between Micky Mouse, Adolph Hitler or Clay Aiken, but she knew how to say, “Obama” and her vote counted!
Of course, she got a little bit of “assistance” at the polls after the Easter Seals employee allowed a “hauler” to transport the child for her vote. Needless to say, her father was upset and got in a big fight with the Easter Seals gang, but they pushed back. They knew how to dodge the law and said their wards “got no assistance from staff.” And since the daughter had no chance of proving her father’s allegation since she cannot legally testify in court, the matter was dropped. Until we (VIP) get our way, such abuse of people legally declared, “mentally incompetent,” is still perfectly legal (but morally bankrupt) in NC.
If the DV 2.0 goes into effect, there will be a new market for those same inhuman political animals who have no conscience when abusing the handicapped for hundreds (or even thousands) of votes: They can start harvesting from hospice care facilities.
Imagine the manipulation they will use on people who are in their last days among the living.
“Mrs. Jones, you want to be sure your grand children have the best future, don’t you?”
“Well . . . I suppose so.”
“Great! Let’s make sure you can vote before anything happens.”
“My eyes! I can’t see well enough to do all that,” Mrs. Jones might object.
“Don’t worry Mrs. Jones, I’ll help you.”
Now, imagine the person doing the “helping” is the same person who feeds Mrs. Jones and changing her diapers and understand my revulsion of this seemingly “compassionate” idea.
Reagan George of the Virginia Voters Alliance recently told me that he estimated, during their 2013 election, “the machine” in his state harvested around 10,000 votes from mental hospitals, hospice centers, nursing homes and group homes. Virginia has 55,000 licensed beds in such facilities. (We’ve not yet gotten a firm estimate on the NC numbers and won’t until we can beat the public information out of a particularly recalcitrant NC Agency.)
The only silver lining to the current law (DV 1.0) is that the ballots of dead voters can be removed. Under DV 2.0, those ballots will count again and this law will encourage more repulsive vote harvesting operations!
The bottom line is that elections are about the future and not the past. We have to draw a line on the calendar and decide when the future begins and Election Day seems like the best place to draw it.