How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Embrace The Fraud

I don’t know how I missed this truly hilarious entry  by Chris Hayes, but I did and now I’m late to the game. Nevertheless:

Having moved to DC last year, I suddenly realized a week ago that I needed to register to vote at my new (disenfranchised) address by October 5th. So I dutifully printed out the form, filled it out and prepared to mail it. I happen to live in one of those pre-war apartment buildings that has a mail chute (side point: how great are mail chutes? why don’t all buildings have them?). As I went to the mail chute to deposit my registration I encounter a problem: the chute hole was too small for the large registration form. So, foolishly, I folded it in half and stuffed it in. Immediately, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. The form got about a foot down before getting stuck. I went and got a coat hanger, attempting to fish it out, but, of course, as always happens in these situations, only succeeded in pushing it further down. I resigned in despair and gaped: There was my precious franchise, tantalizingly close, and yet so far. What to do?

Since it was only a few days before the registration deadline I had no choice. The next day I printed out another form and mailed it in, from a mailbox on Capitol Hill. But here’s where the serious, class A fraud comes in. That very same day, my excellent and competent building super had managed to get the mail chute unstuck, meaning there were now – gasp! – two identical registration forms speeding their way towards DC Board of Elections Headquarters. That’s right, a fraudulent registration with my name on it. Oh noes!

Clearly Christopher Hayes is a domestic terrorist and his employer is possibly on the verge of perpetrating maybe the biggest fraud in the history of mankind (take that ACORN!). We should probably have him hanged, drawn, and quartered to set a good example to other would be voter-terrorists who are thinking about trying to subvert our democracy by, er, voting.

In all seriousness though, this is a pretty good illustration of why there is no looming “fraud” crisis threatening to tear apart our democractic state, namely, that most of these curious instances have perfectly logical reasons behind them with no sinister intent. And most of them tend to occur because of a lack of resources devoted to election administration. I mean, when you move, yoi have to change your address with the post office. You can go into any post office anywhere and do this. Do you have to call your old post office and specifically let them no, lest the USPS try to send your mail to two seperate addresses? Of course not, because the entire system is integrated and every post office can access administrative data from any other post offices. But this doesn’t hold true in elections, especially in bigger states. If you move from one county to another in Ohio, you have to register to vote all over again. But your new county won’t inform your old county that you’ve registered to vote there, and odds are that you’ll stay on the roles in your old county unless you specifically call them and ask to be taken off. But, of course, no one really thinks to do that (in large part because you’d think they’d be integrated in the 21st century), so you have a duplicate registrant. There’s nothing nefarious about it, and it’s not even the voter’s fault. It’s the logical outcome of a badly managed and unappreciated function of government.

So here’s my proposal; “fully funding” local boards of elections. Let’s get every state on line together, fully integrated at the state level and across state databases, so records can be more accurately maintained in an efficient manner. If I can simply file a change of address with the post office to move anywhere in the country, there’s no reason I can’t do it with the Board of Elections if I’m staying in the same state, and there’s no reason they can’t keep clean records. There’s also no reason why problems arising from clericals errors such as typos need to be handled in the hectic period a month prior to a major election. If we did these sorts of things inthe summer or, God forbid, off years, we could notify people that there was a problem with their information, they could get it cleared up, and we could do all of this with more time and fewer things going on at once. And there’s really no need for draconian registration deadlines that bottleneck the process either. Certainly you don’t want a situation wherein partisans from “safe” states flood into swing states at the last minute in order to vote there and tip the election, but it seems to me that it wouldn’t be all that hard to show proof of residency going back at least 30 days and that, if you can do that, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have an extra month in which to spread out the paper wrk and prevent these chaotic situations.

But something tells me that we’re not going to get a lot of support for these sorts of fixes from the “concerned” conservatives all a flutter about ACORN. Anyone tink otherwise?