Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Stealing Elections

Democrats and Republicans have a difficult time getting together on combating fraudulent electioneering because they view the problem completely differently. Republicans tend to worry about people voting that shouldn't -- dead people, felons, people voting twice or in places where they don't live, and other types of fraudulent voting or vote counting.

Democrats tend to see the problem as one of making sure that everyone that can vote does, thus, making sure that the right to vote is not suppressed and no one is disenfranchised.

John Fund finds a whole lot of the former problem, and some of the latter, in Stealing Elections: how Voter Fraud Threatens our Democracy. The book, first published in 2004 and brought back out prior to the 2008 elections, worries that increasing regularities might threaten to thoroughly destroy confidence in our elections if we have another close national contest. While that did not happen in 2008, the problems he describes should be of concern to every American.

Mr. Fund provides some information about America's heritage of election shenanigans, including those of Tammany Hall and Lyndon Baines Johnson. However, most of the book details election fraud in the years since 2000, with a particular focus on irregularities in Florida, Mississippi, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Seattle that impacted state and national elections. He also warns that the increased use of early voting and mail in voting increases the opportunity for fraud.

Most Americans would be appalled at the lackluster, or corrupt, enforcement and use of dirty tricks that Mr. Fund describes, and one senses that many of the fixes would be accomplished if not for the involvement of hyper partisans who want to retain the ability to go about business as usual.

In fact, it is important that they be fixed. In 2008, we were fortunate that the presidential election was won handily. However, 3 months past election day, we still don't know who won the vote to be U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and a perfect storm in the future could make us wish for the good old days of Florida in 2000. The United States should do better. In fact, it must.

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