House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert is putting together a task force to
investigate allegations of voter fraud in the Nov. 7 election that
will be nationwide in scope and will “put people in jail,” according to
a top member of the Republican leadership.
Hastert initially asked outgoing Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry
Hyde, R-Ill, to chair the task force, but Hyde says he turned it down.
Hyde is the leading candidate to become the new chairman of the House
International Relations Committee, in front of two moderate Republicans,
Jim Leach and Doug Bereuter.
Republicans will be looking at allegations of voter fraud from across
the country, not just in Florida.
“In Madison, Wisconsin, we had homeless shelters with 20 beds where 200
people voted,” said a top member of the leadership, who asked to remain
unnamed for this report. “In Wisconsin, you can just show up at the
polls on election day and vote without being registered by saying that
you have just moved into the precinct. In some predominantly Democratic
precincts in Texas, we had 125 percent of registered voters cast
The voter-fraud task force will also examine allegations that the
Department of Defense shut down mail call for U.S. military vessels on
overseas deployment two weeks before the election, to prevent absentee
ballots from being delivered to U.S. Navy personnel or returned by them
to their home districts.
Sam Wright, a retired U.S. Navy captain and lawyer who advocates a major
overhaul of the military voting system, believes that 200,000 members of
the military and their family get systematically disenfranchised.
“That’s based on the survey that DoD does after every presidential
election,” said Wright. “I am now coming to believe that the 200,000
figure is a gross understatement. The DoD survey only shows what
military members know.”
And in Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles, allegations are surfacing of
roving bands of voters who were taken in buses from precinct to precinct
to vote in place of registered voters who had moved away or who had
never voted before.
“We are relatively certain people were being taken from polling place to
polling place and allowed to vote,” said Republican national
committeewoman from Maryland, Ellen Sauerbrey.
How can someone vote in place of another? Actually, it’s fairly simple
— for the fraudulently inclined.
In many states, including Maryland, it is illegal to ask voters to
present identification, on the pretext that would be construed as voter
intimidation. Election officials in Maryland and in many other states
are allowed to ascertain a voter’s true identity by asking only for
their name, address and date of birth.
“But in practice, there’s no check whatsoever,” Sauerbrey said. “The
election judge will prompt you by asking if you live at such and such
address, if you were born at such and such date. This makes it easier
for one person to vote in the name of another, simply by mimicking the
signature on the voter card.”
Repeated attempts by Republicans in Maryland to pass legislation that
would require voters to present identification at the polls have been
blocked by the Democratic majority in the state’s House of Delegates.
No citizenship checks
The motor voter rules (known officially as the National Voter
Registration Act of 1993) went into effect in January 1995, and required
states to allow anyone applying for a drivers license to register to
vote at the same time.
The problem, admitted board of election officials in several Maryland
counties, is that no proof of citizenship is required, thus inviting
non-citizens to vote by fraud.
An elections-board official in Montgomery County, Md., who declined to
be identified, acknowledged there was “no cross-checking” to see if
people who registered to vote at the Motor Vehicle Agency are U.S.
citizens. “We don’t require them to present ID to vote.”
When individuals register to vote at the Motor Vehicle Agency, they are
required to sign a form stating they are U.S. citizens “under penalty of
perjury.” However, those forms are only delivered to the MVA in English,
whereas many non-English speakers regularly apply for drivers licenses
and, by extension, register to vote.
Spanish-language voter registration forms are sent out with state
recruiters, who sign up new voters through a wide variety of state
welfare agencies, the official added. She could not explain why
Spanish-language voter registration forms would be needed for
naturalized U.S. citizens, who are required to pass an English-language
test as part of their naturalization examination.
Maryland has “no way to check” if non-citizens are voting, state
supervisor of elections Linda Lamone said. “We approached the
Immigration and Naturalization Service at one point and asked if we
could collaborate on this, so people wouldn’t get in trouble, but they
About the only way the county or state board of election discovers that
a non-citizen has made the voter rolls is when they are called for jury
Montgomery County Jury Commissioner Nancy Galvin said her office sends
out 10,000 to 12,000 questionnaires every other month to prospective
jurors, asking whether they are U.S. citizens. Non-citizens are not
allowed to sit on juries.
“We’ve had many of them returned asking to be excused from jury duty
because they are not U.S. citizens,” she said. However, she said her
office “keeps no records” of these replies, and takes no further action.
A spokesperson for Montgomery County State’s Attorney Doug Gansler said
it was “not an offense” to do jury duty as a non-citizen and that his
office “has not prosecuted anyone for this” or for perjury on the motor
In Prince George’s County, a heavily Democratic county bordering
Washington, D.C., election board official Harold Reston said the board
reviews each case individually that is sent over by the jury
“If we find that they registered by accident and never voted, we call
the individual and ask them to request that they be removed from the
voter rolls,” he said. “But if they actually voted, we might forward the
case to the state prosecutor.”
Mike Mcdonough, an assistant to state prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli,
said his office has had several hundred election-law cases since motor
voter went into effect in January 1995, but had conducted no
prosecutions over the past six or eight months.
“Prosecution is not the standard thing that happens in this sort of
case,” he said. “We try to dispose of it short of prosecution.”
A silver lining
U.S. Rep. Bob Stump, R-Ariz., has twice introduced a bill to repeal
motor voter in the U.S. Congress, only to have it vetoed by President
Clinton. He recently vowed to reintroduce the legislation in the 107th
Congress next year.
But not everyone believes that motor voter is all bad.
Maryland Republican activist and statistician Henry C. Marshall has done
a comprehensive analysis of new registrations in Maryland over the past
five years and found that motor voter has actually reduced the
Democrats’ share from 61.2 percent of total voters to 57.1 percent.
Part of the shift has been a surge in new voters registering as
Independents. But it has also resulted from cleansing the voter rolls of
the estimated 17-20 percent of voters who leave the state every year.
Under motor voter rules, the state board of elections may use
change-of-address forms filed with the MVA to purge former residents
from the rolls.
Marshall believes the biggest problem is not motor voter itself, but the
failure to require new voters to provide proof of citizenship when they
sign up to vote.
“In 1996, 11 percent of the people voting in Maryland were
non-citizens,” Marshall believes. Out of the 1,793,991 votes officially
cast, that amounts to 197,339 illegal votes.
While it’s virtually impossible to verify such figures, they suggest the
potential scope of the problem nationwide, especially in states with
The midnight coup
Ellen Sauerbrey became an unwilling expert on election fraud following
her 1994 bid to become Maryland’s governor, which she lost to Democrat
Parris Glendening. All during election night as precincts reported in,
Sauerbrey remained ahead. Then, close to midnight, results started
pouring in from precincts in Baltimore City, giving Glendening a
5,993-vote victory. It was the closest race in Maryland in 70 years.
To this day, Sauerbrey and her running mate, former Howard County police
chief Paul Rappaport, believe the election was stolen by Democratic
party operatives who stuffed ballot boxes and altered voting machines
after the polls were closed.
Sauerbrey’s failed challenge of the 1994 election results dragged
through the courts for more than six months, and her opponents accused
her of being a sore loser.
Drake Ferguson, a private investigator who headed a volunteer group that
helped document Sauerbrey’s allegations of voter fraud, found that 75
percent of Baltimore City’s 408 precincts had “severe flaws” in
election-day records, including election cards that were either unsigned
or had names different from the printed name on them.
The group also claimed that 5,832 more votes were tallied in Baltimore
City than there were voters who checked in at precincts or cast absentee
ballots — mirroring Glendening’s election margin almost exactly. They
found that keys to voting machines had been duplicated, and that some
people had voted more than once. Sauerbrey even remembers investigators
reporting back to her that they had traced the addresses listed by
scores of Baltimore City voters to boarded-up houses and to vacant lots.
But Glendening’s appointee to head the state board of elections, Linda
Lamone, rejected Sauerbrey’s allegations of fraud, noting that a
Democratic trial court judge and the state attorney general, also a
Democrat, had found they had “no merit.”
Asked whether Maryland had a problem with voter fraud, Lamone said, “No,
I do not think there is a problem.”
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Kenneth Timmerman, a veteran journalist whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Time, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, is currently developing a special series of investigative reports for the Western Journalism Center on vote fraud.
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