What Could Go Wrong

Here in Orange County we've got every reason to fear voter fraud. There's that time back in 1988 when Tom Fuentes, then head of the OC Republican Party, authorized the use of poll guards to scare off Latinos. There's the 1996 election when Loretta Sanchez won from nut-bar Bob Dornan (now with extra nuts!), in which Dornan demanded (and Tom Fuentes encouraged) a fruitless, frivolous investigation into whether unregistered Latino voters had tipped the scales. The words "sore loser" spring to mind. Long story short, we've got legitimate concerns.

So why not throw some paranoia kerosene onto that fear fire? Don't mind if I do.

Not two weeks ago, DA Tony "The Kauck" Rackauckus charged 12 signature gatherers implicated in another voter fraud incident. The fun part - he only wrongfully implicated two of them! But I digress. Earlier this year, over a hundred voters (that we know of) had their registration switched to Republican unbeknownst to them - until they received their "Welcome To the Republican Party!" gift basket, complete with intolerance bouquet and Klan hood (I kid, Republicans).

Here's how they did it; signature gatherers lurked around likely spots (college campuses, parking lots) and asked people to sign a petition on sex offenders or universal health care - that sort of thing. What people didn't realize is that they were also signing voter registration cards. One victim, Desiree Funch, only discovered her misfortune when she received a notice in the mail that a "Desiree Funso" was now registered Republican. She figured they misspelled her name because they couldn't read her writing when they forged her signature from the petition she signed to a voter registration card.

But what if these brand-new Republicans have more than new names? What if they also have new addresses?

Imagine this: instead of just registering voters as Republican, what if dishonest parties also changed addresses of voters - say, to an innocuous post office box? This could be done in one of two ways. 1) While Ms. Funch receives her voting material at home as she should, "Ms. Funso" receives her information at the post office box - all it takes is for the plot's orchestrator to send out for absentee ballots. Alternatively, conspirators could always register misspelled voter names and then intercept the sample ballots - either at the Registrar's office or en route to voters. Just the other day my supervisor complained that her neighborhood was so bad someone stole her daughter's birthday check from the mailbox; how tough could it be to similarly nab a bunch of sample ballots? Especially when their dissemination is so widely publicized? Or one could always register as an absentee voter on Neal Kelley's brand-spanking-new www.ocvote.com website.

On October 10, USA Today revealed details of a preliminary report to the US Election Assistance Commission that predicted there would be more voter fraud relating to absentee ballots than to electronic voting machines:

"There is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling-place fraud, or at least much less than is claimed, including voter impersonation, 'dead' voters, non-citizen voting and felon voters," the report says.

The report, prepared by Tova Wang, an elections expert at the Century Foundation think tank, and Job Serebrov, an Arkansas attorney, says most fraud occurs in the absentee ballot process, such as through coercion or forgery. Wang declined to comment on the report, and Serebrov could not be reached for comment.

The Registrar of Voters has already received over 240,000 absentee ballots.

What's the good news, you might ask with lip a-tremble? Simple: we've got even more reason to go out and vote on Tuesday! After all, most of the voter fraud has probably been committed already, so it's up to us to balance the scales as best we can. That and get drunk afterward.


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