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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Voter fraud fueling political cynicism

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

If you follow the political process even just casually, you know that crooks abound on the political landscape of this country. I'm not talking about the politicians themselves, though that part of the equation is sometimes true as well. I'm talking about the grassroots workers who conduct the "grunt" work that greases the wheels of the political process. There may be no more rich a breeding ground than St. Louis.

A 134-count indictment has been filed in St. Louis against Operation Big Vote, the "cornerstone program" of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. The indictment charges that workers for the "get-out-the-vote" campaign in urban St. Louis used fake names, disconnected telephone numbers and addresses that were vacant lots to put more voters on the registration lists in St. Louis. The fraud may reach to the top rung of the Operation Big Vote ladder.

Thousands upon thousands of purely phony names were submitted to the registration list by workers who had been paid to collect the names. And to compound the problem, it appears that officials with the organization may have tried to cover-up the shenanigans when law enforcement officials came knocking.

And you wonder why there is this massive level of cynicism toward the political process? Don't misunderstand. It was not the candidates or the office holders who were pulling these dirty tricks. It was the rank-and-file workers who probably believed that their future jobs depended on a successful outcome to the voter registration drive. And it's at that level where deceit and fraud come into play. And it's not pretty.

St. Louis has gained a reputation for questionable political activities in recent years. And they play those games because of the power and the money that results from success at the voting booth. If you'll follow the money, it will eventually lead you to the answer to many questions.

Here's how the lawyer for the campaign's leaders responded to the indictment.

"We really don't know what happened. It appears some workers were a little less motivated, and may not have written real names down. It's a giant leap of any logic to say that because some people did that, the people in charge must have known about it."

No sir, it is no giant leap of logic. It's just another sad commentary on a political process that is less than pure.

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