A close friend of mine worked the polls in Ward 2 in Portsmouth, NH this past Election Day, to protect against voter fraud. He got a call around noon to be on the lookout for a tall guy, curly hair, blue jacket, with a MA license who was giving a story about living with his mom in NH, who had just left Ward 1 and was headed to Ward 2 to vote again. Sure enough, about an hour later, the guy showed up, went to the registration table, plunked down his MA license, and registered to vote. My friend stepped in and challenged his ballot. They went to the moderator (the guy in charge) and said my friend had to fill out a form to challenge it. They went to get the form, brought him the wrong form, went to go get the right one, and in all the confusion and going back and forth, someone else gave this guy his ballot, and he voted.
So, despite being on the lookout for this guy, spotting him, and taking the appropriate steps, his vote got counted anyway. Twice. And there is no doubt in my mind that he left there to go directly to Ward 3, 4, 5, etc. to vote again and again.
The worst part is, I asked my friend what would happen now. I mean, we had this guy's sworn affidavit that he was a legit voter, and presumably several more from all the other Wards, we had his ID, we could collect all the duplicate sworn affidavits and he would get prosecuted for voter fraud, right? I mean, it's a FELONY, right? You guessed it, my friend said that the police did not have the resources to follow up on every guy like this, and no, the chances of him being prosecuted were about the same as the chance of McCain winning if he called for a recount. It just killed me that this happens, and will continue to happen, as long as there are no consequences for the violators.
To try to end on a somewhat happy note, another guy came in, with a CA driver's license that had a NH address on it (I have told this story many times, and am still waiting for someone to explain to me how you get a CA license with a NH address, but anyway...). Again, my friend stepped in and challenged this guys ballot too, and and the guys started hemming and hawing and weaving his tale, getting more and more agitated, and finally, in mock outrage, said "uhh...I...I...I feel intimidated, I'm leaving." and left without casting his ballot. Mark at least one small victory for the good guys.
It made me think a lot about our system, our democracy, and how worthy of protection it is. I am definitely going to be more involved next time around, hopefully doing the same thing my friend did, trying (not always successfully, but trying nonetheless) to secure free, accurate, trustworthy election results. Just casting my ballot is not enough for me anymore.