Control, not race, is issue behind voter fraud

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Commentary by Clif Lusk/Editor

Some things never change – especially in politics.

Votes, it would seem, have been stolen in Greensboro’s mayoral race. In Demopolis, some have questioned the legitimacy of some ballots, although not enough for anyone to take any action other than talk. In Marion, a mayor has won office entirely through absentee ballots.

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While, in Marion’s case, those ballots may all be legit, even statewide elected officials like Secretary of State Nancy Worely say such an absentee turnout is curious.

Throughout the region, it’s politics at its finest – and it isn’t really about race. That’s just a smoke screen, a convenient way to explain it.

This issue is about control. In Hale County, there’s a group of people – some of whom are currently in public office – who want to call all the shots and they’re willing to do whatever is necessary in order for that to happen.

Intimidation tactics, vote stealing and strong-arming are seemingly the tools of the trade.

Can I prove it, you may ask. Perhaps. Perhaps not. I’m not going to set out to prove a single thing with this column.

But, as the old adage goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Too many people are talking about who’s done what to whom in this latest round of elections in the Black Belt.

In coffee shops, street corners, beauty shops and churches, people are whispering names and innuendo.

Come on people, can’t you see that your rights as American citizens are being trampled by a few wanting to dominate the scene, then dominate your lives through a political patronage system that really is second to none?

That’s supposed to raise the ire of any red-blooded American. White, black, red, yellow or purple, it’s not about race, it’s about control.

I happen to believe We the People are the ones who control our destinies. I am conservative in most of politics, yet – never once – have I cast a vote for a party. Republican and Democrat aren’t nearly as important as the man or woman behind the campaign.

Yet, in the Black Belt, we’re letting it happen. Hale County happens to be an easy target for picking but, truth be told, it’s going on everywhere.

I am told, for example, that certain individuals showed up at the polls to vote only to be turned away because they had already voted absentee. That’s not a good sign right there.

Unless there’s an altered state of consciousness, no one can forget they’ve voted by absentee. Just figuring out what goes inside which envelope is enough to give a headless horseman a migraine.

Problem is, those people don’t want to “go on the record” about the issue because they are actually fearful of the retribution that would, in their minds, certainly come.

Geez, that sounds like something from Nazi Germany or the Soviet “republic” not the good ole South.

Two problems have been identified in one: voter fraud and fear.

Compound that with the problems of people who know they live outside a jurisdiction and go out of their way to vote in that jurisdiction.

In order for that to happen, there’s one place the change has to be made: the Board of Registrars.

Now I do not know who serves on the Hale County Board of Registrars. Usually, since the appointments don’t pay a whole lot, retired folks serve on the board and do a pretty durn good job at keeping stuff straight. Their work is only as good as the information they’re given.

Any one can bring in voter registration cards or turn in change of address cards.

It’s sort of funny, but there are people registered to an address in Greensboro that doesn’t exist.

This is when the voter individually runs afoul of the law and ought to be prosecuted to fullest extent.

Now what do we do about the whole sordid affair?

Stand up and stop taking it. That’s easy to say, but what about the old man who’s afraid his house might get torched?

That’s why we have a newspaper. To champion those who cannot champion themselves.

Vanessa Hill is champion to a few of those people as well – even if she is running for office.

Win or lose the mayoral campaign, she told this writer she was going to do her part to put an end to it in Greensboro.

That’s to be commended.

It’s up to the rest of us to join the wagon.

It’s the only way real change will come to the Black Belt.

Clif Lusk is editor of The Times. Contact him via e-mail at