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October 17, 2012

If youíre voting, this isnít Chicago

Norman M. Covert

First order of business is that if you waited until today to register to vote, or change your party affiliation, or tell them you died, it’s too late. That suspense date, as they say in bureaucratic jargon, was yesterday.


It would be revolting to be boxed out of voting because you are snug in the accommodations at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Albeit, in the 2008 presidential election some people lying in eternal rest managed to vote in such metropolitan areas as Chicago, Detroit, New York City and even the smug academic precincts of Madison, Wisconsin.


I don’t believe voter fraud in those liberal strongholds carried Barack Obama to victory. The “vote early; vote often” quip about Chicago’s mob-influenced atmosphere would not have made much difference in the 2008 presidential election.


Voters nationwide didn’t complain that their Chosen One’s past was mostly under lock and key. Revelations of his radical tactics on the streets of Chicago were shouted down. Nearly four years later, there appears to be some buyers’ remorse that they worshipped at the Altar of the Voting Booth. If they voted “often” their ballots would have been chump change considering his landslide.


Their choice for president is judged to have failed at home and abroad despite an army of spinmeisters, who say we should not believe our lying eyes.


Talking heads on local radio and their listeners have been blasting away that illegal immigrants – Hispanics they believe – will be permitted to vote and thus turn the tide for any and all liberal politicians. The key, they say, is that none will be asked to show valid identification. There may be only a scintilla of believability in that statement.


It is a good bet that if you live in Frederick, there is not much chance of slipping in more than a handful of fraudulent votes. Neither Election Director Stuart Harvey, nor his diligent deputy Noreen Schultz, would allow it. They are vigilant and would catch potential election interlopers.


If giving odds, the bookies might say there is only an outside chance – we’ll say a 100-1 shot – that an “illegal immigrant” would register to vote in Frederick. Certainly, usurping another person’s vote, whether the registered voter is alive or dead, is a possibility with the Absentee Ballot. Again, that would be an anomaly.


There is some irony that citizens working as election judges at the Early Voting (scheduled October 27-November 1 at Frederick Senior Center, Taney Avenue) and regular election day November 6 were required by the Internal Revenue Service to prove citizenship and identity in case their stipends exceed the individual $600 threshold for Frederick County to report to IRS. It may be a challenge for retirees to dig up that old birth certificate and original Social Security card from the dust bin of the home archives.


From an experience standpoint, we have found many voters eager to show identification cards, including driver’s licenses and voter registration cards. One senses pride in the ability to cast their ballot for their candidate. That is the American Way.


Election check-in judges are instructed not to ask for identification, rather to ask each potential voter to verify his/her name, birth date, address and sometimes even party affiliation depending on whether it is a primary rather than general election.


Working off the tried and true original Diebold election equipment, judges have access to the entire State of Maryland voting rolls. When a surname is entered, often only the first couple letters are needed, any registered voter of that surname in the precinct pops up. If none is in the precinct, no name will appear, requiring the check-in judge to search the statewide data base.


Information on the unit screen reports the status of any given registered voter. If an absentee ballot had been issued, it would be shown. If the voter swears no such ballot was cast, rules allow that person to vote using the Provisional Ballot, which is reviewed for validity by the election board. Comparison would be available to show if an Absentee Ballot had been received.


In the case of inactive voters (those who have not cast a ballot in several elections) the unit would require identification, which is the only time ID is required. The potential voter must show driver’s license, other photo ID, or even a utility bill, reporting the name and address. This is a dependable system.


One must prove citizenship and identity to register to vote, even on line. Persons registering to vote through Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) have presumably shown proper identification and citizenship documents (birth certificate). The onus is on MVA to verify eligibility at the customer center.


Potential voters whose names do not appear often are the result of glitches in the MVA system. Registration was available on line using the link from Frederick’s Election Board site to the state. However, potential voters must provide identification to the board with their correctly filled out electronic form.


Voter fraud is not likely to bare its ugly head here, but somewhere, somehow, anyone hell-bent on voting twice might still find a way to sneak an extra ballot in the box.


Stuart and Noreen enjoy humor as much as the next person, but voting is no joke, and like Mother Nature, don’t mess with our dandy duo.


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