The tradition of sending out staffers and volunteers to register voters every year is practiced by both parties and it’s a key portion of the Get Out the Vote effort in any election. Unfortunately, the process is complicated (in some states more than others) and candidates can get themselves in trouble if it’s not monitored carefully. That’s particularly true when one of your eager beavers decides to get a little creative when attempting to drive up their score as high as possible. That was clearly the case in Virginia where one enterprising young man was discovered to be submitting names of people whose ability to make to the polls was in question owing to the fact that their very permanent addresses were in local cemeteries. (WTVR)
A man paid to register Virginia voters prior to the 2016 Presidential Election will spend at least 100 days in prison for submitting the names of deceased individuals to the Registrar’s Office.
James Madison University student Andrew J. Spieles, 21, of Harrisonburg, pled guilty Monday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. As part of the plea agreement, Spieles agreed to a prison sentence of 100 to 120 days.
Spieles worked for Harrisonburg Votes when he committed the crime, according to acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle.
Harrisonburg Votes is a political organization affiliated with the Democratic Party.
And he might have gotten away with it if it weren’t for the fact that one of the names he registered was the deceased father of a county judge who noticed his dad’s name on the registry list and took exception.
This didn’t turn out to be an actual case of voter fraud since all of the names were struck from the rolls. But it does highlight the problems we run into when such voter registration drives are done by paid workers rather than just enthusiastic volunteers. Back during the 2010 midterms here in New York, one candidate for Congress failed to read the rules properly and wound up hiring two individuals to gather signatures for him and agreed to pay them on a per signature basis. That’s against the law to begin with and his signatures were invalidated and a criminal complaint filed (though it was later dropped). But the incident illustrated the reason that many states have such a law in place. You can pay somebody by the hour to gather signatures in some places, but when you incentivize the payments based on volume you are inviting trouble if you get any less scrupulous workers on your payroll.
While collecting signatures is different than registering voters, the principle is the same. And no matter which process is underway, submitting the names of corpses is highly frowned upon. Unless you happen to be in California, of course. You’re apparently allowed to vote in the Los Angeles area for up to 26 years after you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil.