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As Long as We Remember...

November 6, 2012

Be Sure To Vote But Be Vigilant

Steve Gottlieb

Well, Election Day is finally here. Americans will cast their ballots in what is arguably the most important election of our lifetime. As millions of Americans go to the polls to vote, they will also need to keep their eyes and ears open in order to identify any voting irregularities.


It is unfortunate that in the United States this should be an issue. However, the truth is that even in this great country we still must deal with those who will try to illegally influence elections. We are already seeing some signs of this during early voting in the current election. For example, according to a November 3, 2012, Internet post, the NAACP illegally entered a polling place to pass out water to people standing in line and to advocate for President Barack Obama. They also started to rearrange people in line. Election judges on the scene did nothing to prevent this behavior.


An October 26, 2012, another Internet post, this one by Human Events, reported that van loads of non-English-speaking Somalis in Franklin County, Ohio, were being driven to polling places by Democrats and being coached on how to vote. All the interpreters were reportedly Democrats as supposedly Republican interpreters were not available. It is not even known if all the Somalis were legally eligible to vote. One interesting fact in the article noted that, according to the Somali Community Association of Ohio, there are more than 45,000 Somalis living in that state. Of that number only 40% became citizens of the United States and only 25% speak English well enough to seek employment.


At the same polling place, Republican voters were intimidated by a group of approximately 30 Democrats. It seems like questionable activities and outright voter intimidation is alive and well in the current election.


The Colorado Observer reported on October 24 that Democrats in Larimer County were providing free T-shirts and pizza to voters. While Democrats thought the complaints about their actions were frivolous, they did at least cooperate and shut down those inappropriate activities.


Don’t forget that previously illegal voter registration activities by the group ACORN were brought to our attention on more than one occasion. Of course, we cannot forget the new Black Panther Party members in Philadelphia standing in front of a polling place in their uniforms with one member carrying a club in an effort to intimidate voters. Even with all the video evidence, the Obama Administration chose not to prosecute them.


In Maryland we are not immune from such problems. According to The Maryland Reporter in a September 30 online article, Election Integrity Maryland identified voters who either registered to vote after they died or actually voted after they died. The Internet article identified one person, still alive, who voted twice in most election years since 2002 and had two voter registration numbers. Due to their hard work and vigilance, we now know that after researching just 1% of the registered voting population in five counties, Election Integrity Maryland found 1,500 deceased people still on active voter registration rolls, 700 duplicate voter registrations and several hundred voters listing a vacant lot or business as a residential address.


Anecdotally, there were a few reports of voting machine irregularities during early voting in Maryland. In one incident the person claimed that the machine just went blank while they were in the middle of voting. It is unknown if they brought that problem to the attention of election judge or poll worker. In a few other incidents people reported voting for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; it seemed the vote defaulted to President Barack Obama on the summary page. Some people also reported the same type of issue when voting No on Question 6. When they got to the summary page is actually marked yes on their ballot.


The validity of these reports, or the cause of any of the problems, is unknown at this time. They are only mentioned to inform the reader that it is important to pay attention to every detail while voting.


In Frederick County we are fortunate to have the best run county Board of Elections in the Maryland. The integrity of Stuart Harvey and his team is beyond reproach. They run a very tight ship and the chance of any real problem is remote. That said, it is still imperative that you keep your eyes and ears open and report any issue of concern.


So, to ensure the fairness of the process and validity of your vote in the election, here are a few things you need to do. First, Get Out and Vote! It is your civic responsibility and duty, so carry it out. Second, if you see anything that concerns you, immediately report it to an election judge. They are there to ensure a fair and honest election. If you have trouble with the voting machine make sure to immediately tell an election judge before you finalize your ballot.


Finally, if you do not think you’re getting the help you need from an election judge, or you feel they are not appropriately carrying out their duties, contact the Frederick County Board of Elections at 301–600–8683.


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