Tag 'em and Bag 'em
Voter Registration and Outreach Invades America
California Voter Outreach Program
Presidential Campaign Data
Defining the Tricks of the Trade
Did you like "Charlie Wilson's War"?
Click on image for larger view!
Patrick Murphy, (a
registered "Decline to State" Independent
Americans tend to take pride in our Democracy and how we are free to vote for those that run our country. We all know that the process has numerous flaws and is very, very costly. We know that "snowbirds" still vote in Florida, that politicians still pay their families on staff exhorbinant salaries and the politicians that loan themselves money can repay themselves with 33% interest. Right now you have a government that works for lobbyists. Opensecrets shows that 2.8 billion was spent on lobbying congress alone. Yes, there is a lot that doesn't sit well with American digestion.
Still, there is also a lot more that Americans don't understand about how their democracy has been compromised and all but eliminated by the election process. There is no doubt in my mind that it is time for a change that goes way beyond Americans healthy trend of re-registering as Decline to State (DTS) or independent voters, making them at least partially free from party rhetoric and corruption. Politicians can put lipstick on the pig by creating all the political reform laws they want and I am convinced that the corruption will still get worse. The pigs will still be pigs. Right now, many of us must disclose our contributions which can jeopardize our home and work lives. "What if the boss finds out? What if my mother finds out? My wife?" McCain's reforms are driving contributions underground where they become even more prolific. The reforms expose so much, that a lot more otherwise eligible folks, will not consider running for office because they might feel that the exposure can ruin them.
Instead, "we the people" must demand clean politicans from the get go, ones that simply won't take the money from special interests and folks that live outside their districts. We must look up candidate career records and, while its available, find out who's money is behind them. Until "we the people" become responsible, we certainly can't expect responsible politicians to represent us. This is the primary reason America is in so much trouble today. We have allowed ourselves to become apathetic, uninformed and lazy.
Americans must also cleanse the process of voting itself. The process has become too large and bureaucratic and it enables corruption. The system is obviously broken, but if Americans become better informed and then take responsibility for their government, there is hope. At least Americans ARE registering DTS here in California to the point that if the trend continues, the Republican Party will not qualify on the CA ballot by 2015. Now if we can only also cause the Democratic Party to go away, we'll be on a righteous track.
Imagine that the Federal government is fighting against responsible local voters in my county by giving us $7,000,000 for voter outreach. According to our registrar of voters, Jim McCauley, they have no choice but to spend the money reaching out to residents to encourage them to register to vote. Ironically, I am of the opinion that this goes out to the lazy and uninformed that the Voter Outreach manipulates into registering with the Democrats and Republicans or what I refer to as the two slowly dying parties. There are no representatives speaking to the youth of Placer County about the growing DTS movement in California. After all, those that voted to fund the Voter Outreach program are Republicans and Democrats!
This year we are doomed. All the R and D candidates proposed for the presidency will not represent the people again and Washington DC will be business as usual. America will decline and Americans will lose more and more freedom. Wars will continue, Iraq will remain occupied, poverty will increase and the crime rate will rise. The only thing saving us these past few years has been technology related. For example, DNA evidence has sent a message to murderers that they can run but they can't hide. I wouldn't mind using a little more technology to track my representatives. After all, they have no problem using it to track us.
Voter Registration Form Problems
To start with, there are many problems with voter registration forms. It all can be summarized by the fact that you are told not to tape or staple them before sending. (see registration form on the left) You are told to "moisten the edge to seal." However, moistening doesn't work and if you try it, and it somehow sticks, it will probably fall apart on the way to the Elections department. You must use tape to get the form to stay closed ( The USPS can't handle staples and your registration may become shredded with the USPS's new equipment.). An open form traveling through the mail leaves all that personal data available to prying eyes every step of the way. The CA elections department is obviously asleep as this problem, along with many others, has been going on for years. For some reason, no matter how many times they change the forms, they can't get this part fixed.
Despite your cautions, many more people will see your personal data from the registration over your voting life. Remember that the government is the number one entity causing identity theft. They have the most data about you and perhaps the worst security. Registering to vote is the first most extreme government invasion of your privacy. I advise you to never leave a registration form with someone that doesn't get a paycheck from your elections department. Instead, hand carry the form into your elections department or send it in the mail yourself, (which still leaves the information open to prying postal eyes). You can do this as often as you like. Changes should be sent in at least 30 days prior to an election if you want the polls to know about those changes. Keep in mind that all political parties have access to your information. Do you ever wonder how those robocalls get hold of you?
In my county, kids in schools fill out the forms next to their friends and then hand them over to Voter Outreach personnel during school hours. They are encouraged to register, whether or not they are educated about the candidates. The kids give out all kinds of personal information that most parents would never give out about their own children. They may be under some group pressure to conform to the other kids' registrations. Of course, this all takes place at their school while their parents are somewhere else. These kids are on average between the ages of 17 and 19. They will give out their names, addresses, date of birth, phone numbers, driver's licence numbers, or in the absence of one, the last four digits of their social security number. Unfortunately, they will be encouraged to join a party rather than to register "decline to state." They will put down their last registration address, if applicable. They will give away their email address. It is a felony if they knowingly give false information on the form. Realize that your kids have been "bagged and tagged" and that if they filled out the form less than seriously, they might go to jail. (When I was a kid, I would have been tempted to do that in protest.)
When we register, we all must check a box that we are or are not a citizen of the United States and that we will be 18 years of age on or before election day. That is pretty badly worded as I get questions from seniors that have been 18 for a long, long time. Incredibly, your kids are then told, by the elections staff, to sign this even though they are not 18. Voter Outreach folks tell the kids that this is okay despite what the forms say under penalty of perjury. Of course, the kids do as they are told and sign it despite the felonious implications. Does this verbal assurance mean that the kids are not committing a felony and won't go to jail? As a parent, you should be outraged by this process, but if you are the average parent, upon discovery, you will simply slap in another DVD and "fo'get aboud it."
Now, if you are a felonious political prisoner in the U.S., you are no longer allowed to vote. You can't change the laws that may have left you imprisoned. That is quite clearly stated on the form. This portends badly for the future as more and more of us become political prisoners in one form or another. Imagine your kid signing away their voting future.
It is also very easy to check the box and initial to become a permanent absentee voter, but don't do it unless you will not be in the district to vote. When you become an absentee voter, your vote will be tallied last and will not show in polls. In fact, most of the time, the election will have been decided before your vote was ever counted. If someone dies or drops out, and you voted early, your vote may have been wasted on a non-existent candidate. Of course, the Voter Outreach folks don't usually explain any of this. Checking this box has become a habit for politically lazy people that don't use their heads. I certainly don't want the brain dead deciding my country's fate, do you?
Registering to vote represents the end of your privacy and the beginning of your government's control over it. It's a way to track you. Yet you must do it in order to participate in our democracy. Sierra College, in my county, was requiring, and perhaps still does, for you to answer whether or not you voted in order to complete a student application online. Imagine that! They want to make sure that you are doing as you are told, or perhaps they will collect data based on your answer and then use it against you. How many other ways are governments and political parties using your data? "Wouldn't you like to know." Though it is supposed to be illegal, I'm sure that some of the prying eyes are misusing your data for other business or personal purposes as we speak. As a past chair for the Libertarian Party in Placer County, I had access to much of your information and voting history. I could tell what political party you belonged to, and if so inclined, use the information to sell you products or put you on a mailing list for other than political purposes. Sure, I didn't, and I knew I wasn't supposed to, but my point is that I could have.
This is all wrong, wrong, wrong. It is all un-American. You complain that you don't really have any say in your government. Then you give out your information so that you can enable these folks to do with you as they wish. There are so many other ways for politicians to manipulate the system. It is sad that it all starts with the registration and so-called "voter outreach" process.
If people need the government to show them how to vote or to excite them about voting (to promote the success of the Republican and Democrat owned system), then I don't want these potential voters in the system. Let the lazy stay home. Leave them alone. That will give my more informed vote much more power. Why should the government spend my tax money (or borrow money from China) to help the uneducated and unmotivated water down my vote? Folks should want to vote badly enough to figure it out on their own without my $7,000,000 to get the lazy and irresponsible to vote for the corperican status quo. And... If they are indeed that lazy and irresponsible, I can bet they'll vote in all kinds of welfare so they never have to become hard working or responsible.
Then, there's the corruption of the registration takers. In Nevada, Voter Outreach of America is accused by former employees of shredding the registration forms of thousands of Democrats. There are more cases quoted at: (http://www.alternet.org/election04/20194/)
I register because it is the only way I can vote. I registered DTS. I am not affiliated with any corrupt party even though I can usually vote in their primaries as a DTS registrant. This year, the Republicans wouldn't allow DTS voters to vote in their primary. No problem. I re-registered Republican for approximately 30 days and then, 2 days after the election, I re-registered as a Decline to State voter. It was easy. I can fill the forms out ten times a day if I want to.
Registering as a Republican or Democrat empowers those parties with special privileges and qualifies them for money AND puts their parties on the ballot. If you want to end their reign of inefficiency and error, consider all that I've said here today. Show your kids that you can be independent and how you are not a sheep, lemming or osterich. Set an example. Become informed. Become responsible. Stand taller!
Michael Patrick Murphy is the author of two books. The Greens ISBN 13: 9780595133055 and The Government, ISBN 0-595-30863-5. Both are available online or from your favorite bookstores by special order. Mike also ran for the California State Assembly in 2006.
Mike can be reached at email@example.com