A Dead Guy Voted in August….. An Encore Post.

Article published Nov 4, 2007

Moving toward voter ID

Give me your name, age, address and sign this book. That’s it. That’s all the information election workers can ask voters right now in Mississippi.

That could change if proponents of Mississippi voter ID get their way.

The move to having voters show an ID before touching the screen or marking a ballot is picking up steam.

At least three rulings this year moved the state further along the path toward statewide election reforms that could include a voter identification program.

Voter ID was a lukewarm issue in this year’s legislative session, during which several bills were introduced but never passed both houses.

But the issue is anything but lukewarm to state Sen. Joey Fillingane. For eight years, he’s proposed voter ID legislation. Critics won out every time.

“They said there was no evidence of fraud anywhere in the state,” Fillingane said.

That changed in October when a judge found evidence of voting irregularities in the August Democratic primary for circuit clerk in Jefferson Davis County. Clint Langley challenged the results of his narrow loss to Nadine Thompson.

Circuit Judge Forrest Johnson of Natchez found at least 26 cases of voting irregularities, including one instance where a dead man purportedly voted and another one where someone who was hospitalized in an adjoining county cast a vote. It was enough evidence to throw out the results of the Democratic primary for circuit clerk.

“Clearly now we have a documented case in Jefferson Davis County where you have deceased persons voting and folks who were not in the county voting,” said Fillingane, who represents Jefferson Davis County in the Senate.

Two federal judges also weighed in on the issue this summer.

In June, U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper of Cleveland ordered the state to require voters to declare a party affiliation, re-register and vote using a photo ID system for the 2008 party primaries. The ruling, which is being appealed, came in response to a Mississippi Democratic Party lawsuit filed in May 2006 to prevent Republicans from voting in Democratic primaries.

Next came a case from Noxubee County in which U.S. District Judge Tom Lee of Jackson found that the Democratic Executive Committee and its chairman, Ike Brown, had violated the voting rights of white residents by using his position on the committee to influence the election. Brown had hired notaries who went into the community, gave black voters absentee ballots and encouraged them to vote for preferred candidates.

Fillingane’s opponent on Tuesday, Constitution Party candidate Vince Thornton of Collins, said a voter ID program should not be tied to a national identification program that allows the government to better track individuals.

“I’m not opposed to an ID to vote, but it shouldn’t require us to create a Nazi-like government state to live in,” Thornton said. “I don’t want dead people voting, but if the solution is worse than the problem…. I would live with a few dead people voting if it means giving up my liberties.”

Fillingane’s Democratic opponent, Gerald Buffington, did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment.

Candidates on reform

The secretary of state oversees elections in Mississippi. Democrat Rob Smith and Republican Delbert Hosemann are running for the open seat in Tuesday’s election, and both support voter reform.

But they have different takes on voter ID.

“Being on the campaign trail from February to now, I kept hearing people tell me story after story in county after county how voter fraud needs to be cleaned up,” Hosemann said in a telephone interview last week.

As a result, Hosemann is proposing a voter identification program that would be augmented by early voting to reduce the number of absentee ballots going out. He also said he would increase poll worker training and certification programs to make sure elections are fair.

Smith, who does not see voter ID as a necessary component of voter reform, believes a task force of circuit clerks and election officials should come up with a comprehensive package that would encourage more voters to come to the polls.

He discussed an early voting program for senior citizens and “same-day registration, same-day vote” legislation that would encourage more people to vote. But his final proposal would not come until after the task force completes its work.

“What we’ve said from day one is that we will work with the circuit clerk to come with comprehensive voter reforms and we will look at whatever the circuit clerks bring,” he said. “That package can include everything, but at least you have experts telling you the way to run an election. You don’t just have some politician telling you one thing.”

Smith said poll workers are already allowed to ask voters to state their age and address, which can be verified in the poll books, which he said addresses the issue of people voting under others’ names.

Hosemann cites a poll conducted in late September by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican firm in Alexandria, Va., that shows 86 percent of Mississippians believe voter fraud is a problem in state elections while only 8 percent did not think it was a problem.

The study also shows that 97 percent of Mississippi voters possess a valid ID and nine of 10 voters would support a state voter ID law.

What others say

Voter ID is contentious for some groups – such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and AARP.

Members of state and local chapters of the NAACP have spoken out against the issue, saying it is reminiscent of a poll tax and would require more work to register and a possible fee to get proper ID.

“Voter ID is a form of poll tax and poll tax really was a sham when it came to African-Americans,” Forrest County NAACP President Clarence Magee said. “I don’t think they should put any more unnecessary requirement on people to vote. An ID card is just something else you have to keep up with.”

Many lawmakers, however, have said they would find a way to make identification cards available to voters who do not already have a driver’s license or other state-issued ID free of charge.

On the national level, the AARP has opposed voter ID because many older voters may not have a driver’s license or other identification card.

But Joe Yore, a member of Hattiesburg branch of the AARP, said it is not a concern for him.

“I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense why anybody would be against it. I understand the old poll tax was not good but there is absolutely no reason they can’t give someone an ID if they don’t have a driver’s license.”

Incumbent Rep. Ken Morgan, who represents a small part of Jeff Davis County and is running against O.K. “Kenny” Moore, said he is a firm believer in voter ID.

“If what’s happening in Jeff Davis County is not an eye-opener to people who didn’t believe in voter ID before, I don’t know what will be,” he said. “It’s no different than having a Social Security card. It is something I am going to be in favor of 110 percent.”

Moore did not return telephone calls.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Candidate Research, Delbert Hosemann, Democrats, Election MS 2007, Haley Barbour, mississippi 2007, Mississippi Secretary of State, Phil Bryant, Voter Fraud, Voter ID

10 Comments on “A Dead Guy Voted in August….. An Encore Post.”


  1. I am the republican candidate for Sheriff of Forrest County. We have been living under the rule of a democratic sheriff for as far back as I can remember. This election being my third time to run proved to be the best showing in the primary election with me recieving 6463 votes and my oponite 3232. in previous elections on ballot cards he always came out the winner. This year we used computers and we all saw a drastic change in the primary votes. Everything looked real good going into the General election, however when it was all over I ended up with 2336 votes and he had 12,991.
    I’m just wanting to find out how does one go about investigating corrupt voter returns? Who do I talk to? What kind of questions do I ask? How does one cheat with computers are used for voting?

  2. Jacksonian Says:

    The computers are nearly impossible to cheat. They are all independent of each other (no network, wired or wireless), so you can’t “hack into the system” and tell them to count anything other than what they are getting from the voters. If you have questions about how the results were tabulated, ask your county officials. The tabulation is done at a central location where the memory of each machine is physcially and independently transferred to the tabulation system. Each machine’s ID is associated with a particular precinct, so that returns can be tabulated by precinct. The precinct results are then added up to create an overall total.

    The only way to “cheat” the machines is if the ballot is deliberately programmed incorrectly. That is unlikely, as the programming of the ballot is supervised by the entire election commission, and the testing of the ballot (where “dry run” votes are cast on the programmed ballot, to ensure proper tabulation) is open to the public.

    If you feel that there is some specific reason to challenge the results, contact the Secretary of State’s Office for information on the challenge process. You have a limited time to challenge the results, though, and you need to have specific information or cause to believe that the results are incorrect. You cannot challenge simply because you can’t make sense of the general returns after the primary, that’s an issue of behavior by voters. You might want to consult an attorney who handles these kinds of cases.

    However, I cannot stress how important it is for you to have evidence of wrongdoing or mistakes that affect the outcome to be successful in a challenge. When people make challenges without such, they are dismissed as sore losers.

  3. Steve Rankin Says:

    “In June, U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper of Cleveland ordered the state to require voters to declare a party affiliation, re-register and vote using a photo ID system for the 2008 party primaries. The ruling, which is being appealed, came in response to a Mississippi Democratic Party lawsuit filed in May 2006 to prevent Republicans from voting in Democratic primaries.”

    The suit was actually filed in February 2006. In July 2007, Pepper changed his June 2007 order to exclude the 2008 party primaries, which will be held in March. Pepper’s new deadline is August 2008, but that will likely be moved back, too, since the 5th Circuit in New Orleans won’t hear the appeals any sooner than next March or April.

    No court has ever before ordered a state to enact voter ID or party registration, and the likelihood is great that those two parts of Pepper’s ruling will be reversed on appeal. Voter ID and party registration are the legislature’s prerogatives.

    Furthermore, the legislature is free to establish a system of registration in which voters already registered would be deemed to be independents. The only voters who would need to re-register would be those who wanted to affiliate with a party.

  4. Steve Rankin Says:

    Jim Cameron presented this voter ID editorial on WDAM-TV on Wednesday.

    Michigan used photo voter ID for the first time on Tuesday. Other than from the NAACP, there were few complaints.


  5. I’m sure the term “sore loser” might devistate some people, but when it comes to protecting the basic rights that our veterns have fought and died for that name does’t bother me. The truth is the most important thing.
    Jacksonian said the computers “are nearly impossiable to cheat.” Yet according to Aviel D Rubin, technical director of the Information Security Institute at John Hopkins University, who led a team that examined the software from Dibolt Election Systems. The systems, in which voters are given computer-chip bearing smart cards to operate. The machine, could be tricked by anyone to vote as many times as they like, with only $100.00 worth of computer equipment, from a teenager on up.
    Jacksonian thanks for the quick reply…. It may be something I can’t act one, but it never hurts to ask. Computers tampered with are impossiable to trace, good for the corruptiable, bad for the honest people who believe in the system.

  6. Jacksonian Says:

    My point was not to call Mr. Saucier a “sore loser,” it was to describe the way you would be treated by the local officials if you challenge the results without having some concrete evidence of wrongdoing. Remember, a challenge is as much an “affront” of the way the local officials ran the election as it is anything. They take challenges kind of personally, and without evidence (someone swearing to witnessing fraud, the number of votes cast being higher than the number of registered voters in a given precinct, etc.), they WILL dismiss you as someone not worth listening to, i.e., a “sore loser.”

    And those tests that Prof. Rubin and his students did on the Diebold machines were in 2003, and were on the 2002 program. The programs that run the machines have gone through three additional iterations since then, with increasing encryption level each time. Those programs used in 2002-2004 aren’t used in Mississippi.

    The thing is, these machines are the MOST cheat-proof machines there are. Punch card and scan ballots? Boxes of those things disappeared for years — there are still rumors that dozens of ballot boxes can be found at the bottom of the Yazoo river. Lever machines? All it takes is one turn of the thumb on the tabulation wheel at the back when the machine is opened at the end of the day to change the results of an election. Those methods of cheating are what county officials and candidates are used to, not the “spend a few thousand dollars to try to hack” forms.

    Bottom line is, there is NO voting method that is fool-proof, because humans have to be involved in the process. But the road-blocks to cheating that are part of the new generation DREs are much better than anything we have had before. Professor Rubin and his cohorts are either advocates of total paper voting (which not only requires human tabulation, but also disenfranchises a number of disabled Americans) or they have a “fool-proof” solution to sell in the place of DREs (I can’t remember her name, but there’s an anti-DRE woman out of Harvard who railed against all DRE’s, except those who had purchased her paper-trail device).

    The county officials and courts are not going to accept doubts about the security of DREs as the basis for an election challenge, Mr. Saucier. They are going to want evidence of wrongdoing. If you have such, then get an attorney and consult the SOS for the challenge process TODAY. I think you have only 7-10 days to challenge the results of an election, so you will need to get on it. But absent the kind of concrete evidence that a court will accept, then you are probably best not making the challenge, and waiting to run again in 4 years.


  7. Points taken, and I appreciate you replies…

  8. Steve Rankin Says:

    Last month, in the biggest test to date of Georgia’s photo voter ID law, 92 of the 159 counties held elections. Reports thus far are that at least 57 voters lacked valid IDs and cast provisional ballots. Anyone voting a provisional ballot has 48 hours to reappear with valid ID.

    With the statewide presidential primaries set for Feb. 5, the secretary of state estimates that some 200,000 Georgia voters lack valid IDs.

    The U. S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument next month in the case involving Indiana’s similar voter ID law.

    BTW: It’s my understanding that provisional ballots are only counted when they will make a difference in the outcome of an election.

  9. Steve Rankin Says:

    The number of states requiring some type of voter ID has risen from 11 in 2000 to 25 in 2007. A forum on voter ID was recently held in Chicago.

    The U. S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the suit challenging Indiana’s photo voter ID law on January 9. Some 23 “friend of the court” briefs have been submitted, which I understand is a record number. The high court’s ruling in that case is expected to have ramifications for the other states as well.

  10. Steve Rankin Says:

    The U. S. Supreme Court today heard the Indiana photo voter ID case. Most of the justices seemed reluctant to strike down the law. The court is expected to rule in June.

    Here’s John Fund’s latest take on the issue.

    It turns out that one of the people that the plaintiffs say would be inconvenienced by the voter ID law is registered to vote in two different states.


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