Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Your Vote = $10, More or Less

Vote buying scandals were reported widely in August, and I understand the TBI is investigating several allegations. In a story today from the Knoxville News Sentinel, a hearing on the matter in Union County was so garbled and absurd it could easily be a People's Court segment. Or maybe a weird mashup of Jerry Springer and Judge Judy with a little Kafka and a little Dukes of Hazzard all mixed together. I got a headache trying to follow it all.

When witnesses who had previously signed affidavits professing their votes were purchased for 10 bucks actually got on the stand, they began to claim a common woe - they were mentally ill and illiterate. The judge asked if everyone testifying was also incapable of voting too.

Charlie Cox,a Union County Commissioner accused of the vote buying in the election for 10 bucks a whack tells the KNS that is too low a price:

Later in the day, sitting in the bay of his body shop north of Maynardville, he said he's not concerned about the possibility of a criminal probe into the vote-buying allegations.

"I don't give a (expletive)," Cox said in a profanity-laced interview, adding: "I haven't done anything."

Cox said he'd given the Miller family money for years to help them out. Plus, he said, buying votes costs more than $10.

"I've never seen anybody buy a vote for $10," he said, "and I've been around a lot of elections."

It is a fascinating account of an election. And the judge did dismiss the case, even though the TBI is still investigating the events. But Cox is wrong about the price - it could just be equal to the value of a bag of pork rinds.

A case that has been unfolding over the course of this year in Appalachia has accounts of votes being purchased for 10 bucks and less - and yes, even pork rinds.

It is a very convoluted case to track through, but reports in the Kingsport Times-News do reveal one very clear scam - seizing and altering absentee ballots.

Also last week an editorial in The Tennessean had some startling statistics about voting fraud, noting:

Legal experts say most voter fraud occurs in absentee balloting, not covered by the new photo ID laws. Plaintiffs challenging the Arizona law have shown that only 238 of 2.7 million registered voters in the past 10 years have been noncitizens, and only four of them voted."

It truly shatters the myths about our process, that every vote counts. Seems as if some people hold pork rinds in higher esteem than the right to vote. Seems they hold the right to vote with something like contempt. But for all the modern equipment and no matter which state is involved, multiple problems continue to be reported -- and none of them would be solved with the proposed changes in voting IDs.

In Hamblen County, Judge James Beckner has been appointed to investigate challenges to the August election -- but I wonder if anyone will be investigating the absentee ballots along with alleged malfunctions in voting machines. Info on the case so far can be found here.

There is an expression that it isn't who votes that counts, but who counts the votes. But as best as I can find, even determining who actually said that is in much doubt.

1 comment:

  1. james4:37 PM

    What do you expect Joe,idiots have been voting for ages.