The most sympathetic view of the electoral process in most parts of the US is that it’s embarrassing. A more realistic, albeit heretical, view is that it’s criminal. I lean towards the latter: it’s a criminal enterprise laced with stupidity and laziness.
I’m not some hopeless romantic who thinks that everything will be fine if we just go back to paper elections on Election Day; Tammany Hall and the Richard Daley machine did voter fraud really well without Dominion machines and mailed-in ballots.
Alaska is not a sacred example of elections. The first political story I remember when I first arrived here in 1974 was about bags of ballots that turned up in the trunk of an Alaska State Trooper car days after the election was supposed to be over.
There was more than a shred of corruption and voter fraud in much of rural Alaska, and several political figures associated with rural/western Alaska were given new federal addresses in the 1980’s. Wally Hickel-Jay Hammond’s 1978 primary was so tainted that the Alaskan Supreme Court went so far as to say there was fraud, though they wouldn’t say the word, preferring the vague word to misconduct. The court made a rule that it would not interfere with the outcome of an election unless the misconduct committed would have materially affected the outcome of the election, and the judges reserved the power to make that decision.
Interestingly, the Alaskan Supreme Court has found what might be wrongdoing in several elections, it has never found enough wrongdoing to throw out an election.
Get-out-the-vote campaigns and voter fraud are just one step apart; They use the same techniques and data for one as for the other. The only difference is that a GOTV program produces real people who are honestly entitled to vote. A scam program only cares about getting a ballot with a registered name on it into a ballot box. Voter fraud the old-fashioned way required a lot of organization and a lot of work. Fast forward to the world of universal registration, unsolicited voting by mail, long deadlines for early voting, and voting by mail for whatever reason, and committing fraud is a piece of cake, especially in rural Alaska.
The stupidest of many stupid things Alaska has ever done politically is automatic voter registration for the Permanent Fund’s dividend proposal. Anyone familiar with state government knows that the Permanent Fund Division has almost no application security; If you can fill it out and mail it, you will receive a dividend from the Permanent Fund and will almost certainly become a registered voter. So we have over 604,000 registered voters in a state with 732,000 declared residents.
The Permanent Fund Dividend Claims scam relies largely on scammers being ratted out by jealous friends and neighbors who envy their new big screen.
With universal registration and unsolicited mail-in ballots, a scam operation only needs a name and address, and these are easy to obtain. Dropboxes just make it easier; there is a risk that the mule will bring a few hundred fake ballots into a polling station; Some honest poll workers might notice. If you have the name of a supposedly registered voter, a little phone work is all it takes to determine if it’s still at the registered address, and just a little more to determine if it’s in the county or state.
The fraudster is relatively certain if the named person simply no longer lives at the registered address; It is unlikely that there will be an investigation into such fraudulent voting. If the nominee is no longer in the district, fill out the ballot and drop it in the mail or a mailbox; make a few hundred of these and you’re doing your part to “save democracy,” as Democrats like to say.
Art Chance is a retired Alaska State Labor Director, formerly of Juneau, now residing in Anchorage. He is the author of the book Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance. available at Amazon.
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