Along the Tracks

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Democrats’ ‘crack’ registration teams at work

Most people have now heard about the novel way some of the Democratic registration team members are being paid. Somewhat surprisingly, this alleged case of drug dealing/voter registration fraud took place next door in Defiance, Ohio.
For those unfamiliar with where I work or Ohio in general, Defiance is in the northwest corner of the state - a Republican stronghold. Remember Bush-Gore, 50-50 nation and all that? Not here. Bush won this area by something like 65-35, and he will again.
That, as a local observer, is what makes this case so interesting. Sure, you expect these big-city Democratic organizations to step all over the very people they supposedly try to help (i.e., the poor, drug addicts, minorities) - they have for years and have never been held accountable for their despicable behavior. So they go with what got ‘em there.
But to reach out from downtown Cleveland or Toledo, where they can intimidate average citizens trying to obey the law and police departments trying to enforce the law, for the rather scanty opportunities in small town and rural areas, seems downright foolhardy. It was only a matter of time before they were caught, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this brings down a whole drug ring/Democratic-aligned interest group.
Right now, the ties point to the NAACP National Voter Fund, one step removed, but a little investigation may well show others involved, maybe more directly. In particular, I’m wondering where the crack is coming from. Why go through all the trouble of paying off an addict in crack, when paying them off in cash is (unfortunately) perfectly legal. They can always go out and buy their own crack. Obviously, someone has ties to a dealer who either a) sells the stuff bulk on the cheap to the voter registration coordinator; or b) has made a deal with the voter registration coordinator to get “clean” money through the registration payouts - the addicts merely provide the filled-out registration cards for free crack.
The first option results in a potential windfall for the voter registration coordinator. The second is more sinister, with criminal groups directly involved in the process.
How far up does this go? To be honest, I’d be very surprised if Democratic officials in any Ohio county or at the state or national level knew what was going on - there’s just too much to lose for such minimal gain (after all, how many people registered by a crack addict are likely to show up at the polls? How many are eligible? How many are even real people?). I’d be less surprised to learn some officials in Democratic-aligned groups knew what was happening. The temptation to cash in is just to great for some.
This doesn’t let the Dems off the hook, however. Operating a voter registration drive under “don’t ask - don’t tell” rules (“Mary Poppins” was among those registered in this case) is just as wrong as the supposed “voter intimidation” the Republicans are being accused of. They are two sides of the same coin. Both hope to influence the election by changing the numbers fraudulently - one with ineligible or non-existent voters, the other by suppressing legitimate turnout.
The difference here? Someone working on behalf of the Democrats has been charged with a crime. To my knowledge, no Republicans or aligned groups have actually had criminal charges brought against them - only partisan accusations.

UPDATE - I checked on the 2000 presidential results for northwest Ohio counties. Here is a table for all Ohio counties, courtesy USA Today. The far northwest GOP stronghold includes Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam and Williams counties. Defiance was the closest of the bunch - 60-40 for Bush. Not exactly prime territory for Democratic registration - unless fictional characters will do.

UPDATE II - The NAACP Voter Fund coordinator who worked with the Toledo crack-for-registrations worker, Georgianne Pitts, appears to have been a delegate to the 2000 Democratic National Convention. The “Thaddeus Jackson" of Bedford Heights (a Cleveland suburb) is probably the same Thaddeus J. Jackson II of the NAACP Voter Fund mentioned in The Blade. Still checking ....

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