Does this surprise you? If so, you need to subscribe to a newspaper and keep up with things.
In today's Roanoke Times, Dan Casey, my favorite columnist since Mike Royko, wrote about how a woman from Salem had a Liberty University graduate come to her door to gather information. Later she received some mail from Americans for Prosperity. According to Dan the Man, they are linked to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. In this piece of official looking mail, they noted that her neighbors had voted in each election, but that she hadn't.
Somebody, quick! Tell me why that is anyone's business but the lady's?
So Dan, being the sucker he is for a good righteous cause, decided to get to the bottom of it. Needless to say, he got some stonewalling here and there, but the important part is that he has put out there the story for others to read. There are bound to be some other folks who also got a similar letter.
On Tuesday, the old Sprawler was an election official, so I fired off an email to Dan, telling him about my own experiences with voter intimidation (let's name that elephant in the living room, shall we?), and I also sketched out for him what happened to Jake and TD when they went to vote on Tuesday. Here is their story:
We had our voter ID cards and photo ID's. Not a big election, only 9 amendments to the State Constitution, and a bond issue (No repugs to vote against!) We went to our local "sub-courthouse" where you early vote? "Sorry, you can only early vote here. On Election Day, you have to go to your precinct..."
So we went to Cana (Baptist Church) (you'll soon see a theme here), where we voted last time. "Sorry, you are in precinct 7, Johnson County, you don't vote here..." The (helpful not) poll worker couldn't tell us where to vote as his computer was down. Somebody in line suggested "Retta" (Baptist Church), and I think we voted there once recently, but we were turned away from there as well.
Note, we had our voter ID cards, WHICH DID NOT TELL YOU WHERE TO GO TO VOTE!!!! (Apparently they like to mix it up in Texas!) I finally googled and called Johnson County board of Elections. (TG for I Pad and internet!) Telling the helpful woman who answered the phone that I needed the polling place location for "Precinct 7" was not enough, as she had to verify my name address etc on the phone before she would give me the desired info. Finally she told me, "Bethesda Baptist Church!". It was quite far away, we had to get on the interstate, and we have never voted there before....
What's up with this nonsense? I mean, I was ready to give up after being turned away twice, and this was a "throwaway election" and accomplished nothing more than putting me on the list to be called for jury duty, again!!!!"
As I told Dan, this is, thankfully, not the case in Virginia, and especially not in The Star City of the South. When we bring up a voter in the electronic poll book (EPB), it will tell us if the voter needs to be at a different precinct. Often the voter has moved, or there is some other hiccup that is easily solved by looking up on our handy spreadsheet where it is the voter needs to be in order to cast a ballot. If all else fails, we call the registrar's office, where problems can be cleared up - such as the voter providing social security number and the office telling us she was listed under her maiden name. "Let her vote and make her fill out a new voter registration for the name change."
We also employ other tricks, such as affidavits that voters must fill out to certify that the information they have supplied is the most current and correct. There are a lot of variables, but the point is, it is our duty to make sure people can vote if it is possible. If it means they must vote with a provisional ballot, then that is what we have them do. We are patient. If they don't have identification, we have them search through their pockets for items that qualify from our list of approved identification tools. (electric bill, etc.) We do everything we can to help them cast that ballot.
Why? Because it is our job to run the election process by the book. When we protect the sanctity of the vote, we are also protecting the integrity of the election.
Unlike my friends, though, many voters show up unprepared. They don't know what they need to have and some are flummoxed by the process we must follow. They are shy about telling the official their name and address aloud and shocked when the official repeats that and then checks for a match on the voter's identification. Some move and do not keep up with changes of address for voting and the DMV. Some don't understand why it's a big deal. Come July of 2014, many will be in for a rude awakening. That's when our picture id law kicks in.
As it stands, Virginia had a voter purge that took place right before this election. We officials braced ourselves for the inevitable mess it could engender when people who never bother to read their mail showed up to vote. Luckily, our precinct didn't have any glitches along those lines, but it's clear that the party in control of the General Assembly was attempting to tilt the vote in their favor for the gubernatorial race.
The bottom line is that two days after the election, I have already fielded a call from Wisconsin that was going to give me that mythical free cruise to the Bahamas, if only I would give them the right answers on their tea party-slaned questionaire.
The Republicans' latest wedge issue is the Affordable Care Act, and they are doing everything they can do to torpedo it. At this point, I'm ready to say, "The only way you can take it away is if you replace it with a single payer program like Medicare."
They will continue to buy elections until Americans wise up and clean out Congress. In the meantime, we officials will have none of that nonsense. We will protect the integrity of the vote with every fiber of our beings. Well, as long as we're not in Texas....