Granny Farming, Ghost Voters, Dead People and a some of England’s Voting Problems

Election Forum

New reports from the frontlines of the vote-by mail news world have been slow lately, so here’s some highlights from articles and sites I’ve been reading on election integrity…

First a word of the day, from http://www.doubletongued.org/index.php/citations/granny_farming_1/

Catchword: granny farming
Gloss: a form of voting fraud in which pre-marked absentee ballots are taken to nursing homes to be used and mailed by residents.
Filed Under: , ,
Part of Speechn.
Quotation: “Granny farming” is a term for visiting retirement homes with pre-marked absentee ballots.

The next article gives us, “Ghost Voters.” 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2001/may/09/election2001.comment1

The best and simplest way to procure false votes is to invent false voters – “ghosts”, as they are known in the trade. In the 1993 local council elections in Brighton, for example, Labour party workers discovered a cluster of individuals who had been registered to vote at local addresses but who appeared to have left no sign of their existence other than an application for a local Conservative supporter to cast their votes for them.

In the 1998 Hackney council elections, which ended with the jailing of two councillors this month, Lib Dem and Tory riggers registered one of their relatives in two different locations; logged eight fictional voters at the address of a derelict property; and registered more than 80 other ghosts by hijacking the names of students at a residential college, knowing that the students were unlikely to find out, since they were foreign or too young to vote.

The real joy of raising electoral ghosts is that there are no ghostbusters: there is no system for checking the accuracy of the electoral register. Riggers can find a derelict building, or add a couple of extra houses to a street, or use the address of a hostel or anywhere else with a transitory population, and simply bung in names. If they are unlucky or particularly clumsy, and happen to catch the eye of an electoral registration officer, the police may be called. But, under normal circumstances, the paperwork is routinely processed straight on to the register with no attempt at checking.

The omnipresent Dead Voter, is apparently a myth according to TomPaine.com:

story this past Sunday from upstate New York provides an intriguing example of the best—and worst—of the coverage. The usual lists were matched. The usual caveats were proffered. But then the intrepid reporter went beyond the superficial. He acknowledged—twice!—that most instances of dead voters “can be attributed to database mismatches and clerical errors.” He presented an actual citizen who was listed as dead but was in fact breathing soundly. He found an absentee ballot that had incorrectly been attributed to a deceased family member of the actual voter.

Then over on wikipedia I stumbled across a pretty comprehensive look at types and methods of electoral fraud, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_fraud.

Anyway, have fun today… And try to resist the urge to vote for dead relatives when the county sends you a ballot, accidentally, after they die. Even though I know you may be able to forge or trace their signatures.

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