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 V.14 No.31 | August 4 - 10, 2005 

The Real Side

A Howling Loophole

Councilor Sally Mayer's voter I.D. initiative is the real fraud

Commit voter fraud from the comfort of your home. You can rig elections while helping the environment by saving gas and preventing pollution. Take advantage of this amazing breakthrough in undermining democracy the good, old-fashioned wayby stealing it. All this can be yours for as little as one dollar and eleven cents!

How? Register and vote by mail. And the voter identification initiative on this fall's ballot won't do a darn thing to spoil your fun.

First, let me explain how to commit voter fraud by mail. Before you haul back and accuse me of inspiring criminal conduct, look at it this way: You can get instructions off the Internet for building a nuclear bomb, so what I am about to share will seem as rudimentary as boiling water.

On to your first lesson in Voter Fraud 101. Say you are already registered to vote, but one vote won't satisfy your appetite for democracy. You want more. What can you do? You think, why not invent another voter, perhaps a fictitious homeless person? Homeless people have the right to vote. You don't need a street address to register. You can put down "I-25 overpass at Central." But you must provide a Social Security number. Those get checked, just like the Bernalillo county clerk found out that last year's notorious 15-year-old had used a Social Security number for someone in Alamogordo on a fake voter registration form.

Don't despair. There's a gold mine of real people around you with valid Social Security numbers who are not registered to vote. There's Sid, the college dropout sleeping on your sofa. Or ancient Aunt Demetria, who was purged from the rolls because she hasn't voted in a decade. They'll never know you're voting in their name. They've already shown they don't care.

So you fill in a registration form for your unwitting accomplice. Then you copy one of the forms of identification required for registration by mail, like the driver's license you can sneak from Sid's pants while he's still sleeping at noon, or Aunt Demetria's Social Security check or bank statement. Under different scenarios, you could substitute a copy of a utility bill, a paycheck or any other government document that shows the name and address of your dummy voter.

Then you mail your fake registration package to the city clerk. That's your first monetary investment in voter fraud, all of 37 cents for a stamp.

The clerk sends back the voter registration card and you're on your way. Next, you request an absentee ballot, another 37 cents. When that arrives, you vote on behalf of Slacker Sid or Aunt Demetria, slap on your final 37-cent stamp and head to a bar to celebrate. Since you're not voting on Election Day, you don't have to wait for the polls to close. Everything happens on your schedule.

You've never left your house and managed to vote three times. You haven't exposed yourself to questions from an election judge who's suspicious about your long beard when you give Aunt Demetria's name. You haven't risked running into anyone who knows you or your dummy voters. And you've cast your false vote a month before Election Day. Drink up! You're a ballot box-stuffing virtuoso.

This fall voters will consider a ballot initiative represented as requiring all voters to show some form of photo identification. It's being touted as the silver bullet in stopping voter fraud. The proposal is the product of the genius of City Councilor Sally Mayer. It has, however, one howling loophole: It doesn't apply to anyone who votes by mail. So, if you've been hatching plans to indulge in voter fraud from your cozy living room, don't change your plans if this thing passes.

Republicans like Mayer haven't stopped beating the election fraud drum since November, even though the task force set up by U.S. Attorney David Iglesias could not report one instance of someone voting who shouldn't have voted. Republicans have struggled to hide their disappointment that New Mexicans appear to be a law-abiding bunch when it comes to exercising the elective franchise. GOP leaders believe the voter fraud bogeyman is just too powerful to let him die. Progressives have their minimum wage initiative that will draw out their voters; so Republicans have dangled a promisealbeit falseof fighting voter fraud to mobilize their base.

Why the city should go to the expense and trouble of considering such a half-baked, purely political measure Councilor Mayer can't explain. It seems as though, while facing a difficult reelection, she needed face time before the cameras. That much is obvious. It's also obvious where real fraud is being committed, and it's not the voters who are guilty.

Correction: Last week I identified Bob Stover as a former county sheriff, but he was a former APD chief.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. E-mail jims@alibi.com.

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