The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Election Shenanigans

The Express-News has a write-up today about what constitutes as standard election practice down in Duval County:

Allegations of voter fraud have resurfaced in Duval County, where records show one of every two voters who cast a ballot in this month's Democratic primary did so away from the polls.

Longtime County Clerk Oscar Garcia Jr. said the number of mail-in ballots in the primary was unusually high, considering that more than half the 5,641 votes cast were done so by absentee voting.

That's 2,958 ballots sent via mail, more than all the early voting in the county's 2004 primary. Then, the number of early votes cast both in person and by mail totaled 2,864.

As a result, voter turnout this March in Duval County was among the best in Texas, with 57 percent of the registered voters participating in an election that drew little interest statewide. Texas averaged a paltry 8 percent turnout for this year's Democratic primary.

57%- look at those local Duvallians(?) doing their due diligence. Yeah, not really. Of course, when Duval county actually brings in more mail ballots than Bexar County does, then you know something's fishy. The reality is, if you want to commit voter fraud, mail-in ballots are the way to do it.

For those of you who have no idea how the mail-in ballot process works here's a short overview:

  1. Someone disabled, over the age of 65, or who will not be in town for early voting and election day is eligible to vote by mail.
  2. You can then request a vote-by-mail application, basically proving that you meet one of these three criteria.
  3. If it all checks out- and really, most county election officials won't go out of their way to check up on you- then you'll receive a ballot through the mail.
  4. You send it in and make sure it gets to the election office by five or so on election day, and you've just voted by mail!

The safeguards to protect the electorate from voter fraud in this area are practically nonexistent. And something really needs to be done about that.

The passage that I find most indicting though is the quote from Duval County's Democratic Party Chair:

Alicia G. Saenz, Democratic party chairwoman for Duval County, said she's not surprised with the county's voter turnout. This year's race featured two prominent local races, for county judge and county treasurer. But Saenz said she was surprised with the number of mail-in ballots.

57% showing up for a party primary is unheard of. I don't care how appealing and hardfought a group of campaigns are. Looks like the "Democrats are the party of good government" meme hasn't made its way down to Duval County just yet.