I do not normally do these kinds of posts, but as I often use writing to express frustrations, this is one of those moments. But it is also a teachable moment as well.
First, I want to be clear. I HATE POLITICS! Second, I am an independent voter, have been my whole voting age. I have voted for both Republican and Democratic presidents and lower level politics. I am an independent for two reasons. The first, I do not agree completely with the policies and beliefs of either party. And second, I will not be told I need to believe a certain way to belong to that party. Now with the serious stuff out of the way. I would like to share something with you, quite interesting. Because what I am going to show and tell you, is not voter fraud, though it is confused as such. But it is a major pain in the ass.
As I stated above, I HATE POLITICS. But in 2009, because of a teacher labor issue, and the way the bullies of the current school board had chosen to negotiate in public in a variety of negative campaign methods, I had enough and decided to run for school board. I was fed up with this bullying behavior and felt I could make a difference. The experience of a campaign was not only fun, but eye-opening. The goal of my post is not to talk about my school board campaigns, but rather to pull back the curtain so that you can see why I have titled this post the way that I have.
Lesson #1 – seeing is not believing
Campaign signs. We see them all the time. And for the most part, we associate blue with Democrats, and red with Republicans. So, why are there two different signs? While campaigning as a Democrat (one of the two and temporary times I was not an independent, and there was a reason I chose Democrat as opposed to Republican, strategy only), it was thought that if we could show that we were supported by Republicans, that would gather more votes, which is why the sign says “Republicans for”. But we thought, why not fully commit to making the sign red. Republican voters will think that we are the Republican candidates, because their signs are normally red. Devious, I know. But it gets better.
Lesson #2 – the same but different
Something that most voters are not aware of, in local politics, there are options for candidates to “cross file” for an election, in other words, run as a candidate for both parties, not just the party you represent. In elections with a primary election, this is often a good strategy to eliminate an opponent and not having to face in a general election. Two such positions are school board member and local judges. There is only one catch. Just as you have to for the higher elections, you must collect signatures on a petition to support your candidacy. But if you represent one party, and especially in today’s political climate, how do you muster up enough signatures from the opposite party? It is not as hard as you think. So when you show up at the election polls for the primary, voting in your primary, all you see is your party’s candidates which also include the “sheep in wolves clothing” from the opposing party. Devious. But there is more.
Lesson #3 – tools of the trade
Political mailers. So many trees have to die so that politicians can get their information out to you. Some may be informative. Some, like this one that was sent out against my campaign running mates, can be quite offensive. And my opponents were severely criticized for this ad. It should be noted, that not all of these come from the candidates themselves, but rather PACS (political action committees), which ironically, many candidates often belong to. It is a way for them to participate in the shadows, and deflect anything negative that comes from a tactic (“Neither I or my campaign had anything to do with this.”) which is a technicality, but not illegal.
But the question is, how do you get these things? Voter registrations for one. There are several tools available to campaigns, that are public knowledge just because you registered to vote. It is not necessarily a bad thing. It makes it easy for your political party to keep tabs on you. That’s right, each political party can tell when you voted, or how often. Campaigns use this knowledge, to figure out who they need to concentrate on. If you are a regular voter, you will not likely see as many because it is the lesser frequent, perhaps even non-voters that they want to concentrate on. That information is at every candidate’s fingertips. A totally pain in the ass if you do not like getting robo-calls and these mailers, but totally legal.
Lesson #4 – politics on 2020
So, tricks like this do not just happen on local levels, but state and national. Parties and candidates will pull out all the stops to convince, and if necessary trick voters in to casting their vote for them. And I want to be clear, I am not speaking for or against our current president. But what I am going to do, is straighten out one thing that I have noticed, because the confusion it has caused, and it has caused quite a bit of confusion, is not voter fraud. Though I have seen many of my friends make this claim. And I am going to prove to you that this particular situation, if you have seen it, is nothing more than a campaigning method, and totally legal. You have to be smart and see the difference, pay attention, and cast your vote intelligently.
NOT VOTER FRAUD
I received this packet about a month ago. Like many, at just a glance, I automatically assume it is a ballot for the upcoming general election, which I have already requested for by mail. Everything looks official. Until you look at it closer. The envelope, redacting my personal information and barcoding, was accurate. And the return address looked official. But I thought it was odd, as it did not come from my election commissioner, but some other entity, the Center For Voter Information, a lobbying group located in Tallahassee and Washington, DC. But to be clear, what they sent me, was NOT a ballot. It was however, an application for REGISTERED VOTERS to register to vote by mail. And their effort was quite convenient. Again, this was for registered voters.
There was a nice letter explaining quite clearly how convenient it would be. There was a step-by-step instruction, also quite easy to read. And then, get this… the actual application to request a mail ballot. Did I say convenient? It was already filled out with my name and information. All that I had to do, was sign it and mail it in the envelope that was also provided, to our local board of elections, my return address already on the envelope. And the postage was PAID!
Make no mistake. THIS IS NOT VOTER FRAUD. THIS IS NOT A BALLOT. And while it came from a lobbying group that had my voting information, they were not privy to the fact that I had already registered to vote by mail. So, no ballot fraud. No vote submitted. No voter fraud.
A-HA!!! Voter fraud and the post office is in on it now too.
I got this a couple weeks later. With all the problems going on with the postal service, the USPS put out a simple information card, assuring customers that if they planned to use vote-by-mail, you could count on the USPS for your vote to count.
You need to read everything on this card to see, it has nothing to do with registering to vote or supplying ballots. It is simply how to make sure your vote counts.
If this look familiar to Example #1, it does, with a couple of differences, one of those major. Although I have it redacted, this packet came to “resident” instead of addressed to me personally, though it did have my address on it. The major difference? This is an actual voter registration form. There are two easily readable pages with instructions followed by the application itself, which as in Example #1, is pre-filled out, without my name of course. But the address has been filled in, and the return envelope is addressed already to the board of elections, and the return address is my address, just without my name. And this too was pre-paid postage.
Again, THIS IS NOT A BALLOT! This is not voter fraud. As annoying as it is to get now the second mailing from the same Center For Voter Information, it is just an effort to get out and vote. Helping people to register to vote this way is no different than when we apply for a driver’s license, or sign up at some recruitment drive, and it makes no matter where it is done, whether at a mall or a high school. It is just a registration.
Annnnnnddddd…. here comes another mailer from the Center For Voter Registration. Some slight differences, but still just a registration attempt. NOT A BALLOT! This is not voter fraud. They made this mailing a more compact as the way the literature folds, the whole thing is only one page. But still completed the same as Example #3.
These mailers are not ballots. And I believe in most states, early voting (or absentee voting) has not even begun yet. So unless you are Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, or Wyoming, you definitely have not received a ballot, and if you are one of the mentioned states, it is only possible that Pennsylvania has made the mail in ballots available prior to this post. In other words, if you are receiving something that looks formal, READ IT! It is likely not a ballot but rather an attempt to either register you to vote, or to vote by mail. And that is not fraud.
One final note, about “dead people” receiving stuff like this. Again, entities like the Center For Voter Registration, do not get death notices, which is why “dead people” still get stuff like this, and other unwanted junk mail including credit card applications. But you county election board will have the death on record, and that “dead person” will not be able to vote. And anyone attempting to vote using that identity (if the death has not been processed in time for the election) is committing a federal crime.
Having the right to vote, is a serious right, guaranteed by our Constitution. So many have died fighting to protect this right. The least we can do, besides being informed about candidates (I am not a straight ticket voter being an independent, I actually take the time to push each button), and be knowledgable about the options available to complete the process, and recognize when someone is peeing on our shoes and telling us that it is raining.
So with that, get registered to vote. You still have time depending on your state. And then do your duty on November 3rd. If you can vote in person, do it. If transportation or poll inconvenience is an issue, mail it in. If you are trying to protect yourself from the health crisis that has killed so many Americans, mail it in. And for crying out loud, enough with the “if you can stand in line…” memes. That is both ignorant and arrogant and has no place in the people’s right to vote.
Wow, I was actually able to keep this down the middle.