Dead peo­ple ARE vot­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Tom Pur­cell Colum­nist Tom Pur­cell is syn­di­cated by Ca­gle Car­toons.

With Hal­loween so close to the Novem­ber elec­tion, we may as well bring up the ob­vi­ous link be­tween ghouls and po­lit­i­cal hacks: Dead peo­ple are vot­ing.

Re­ports are pop­ping up around the coun­try about de­ceased peo­ple who con­tinue to vote, as re­cently re­ported by a Den­ver tele­vi­sion sta­tion. That report prompted the Chicago Tri­bune’s ed­i­to­rial board to pub­lish a tongue-in-cheek ed­i­to­rial in which the editors ad­mit­ted that dead peo­ple have in­flu­enced the out­come of Chicago elec­tions for many years.

That re­minded me of an odd ex­pe­ri­ence I had in Chicago just be­fore elec­tion time a decade or so ago.

I was in town on busi­ness for six or seven weeks and spent many spare hours tour­ing the blues joints and restau­rants that are leg­endary there. And then one night, after en­joy­ing a wee few adult bev­er­ages, I swear I saw dead peo­ple march­ing up and down Michi­gan Av­enue, stuff­ing their pock­ets with voter reg­is­tra­tions and ab­sen­tee bal­lots.

They looked liked ex­tras in a George Romero flick.

I vaguely re­call strik­ing up a con­ver­sa­tion with one of them. He said he was a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Dead Peo­ple and that if any Repub­li­can tried to sup­press his vote, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union would be crawl­ing over the sup­pres­sor faster than you could say “Jesse Jack­son.” Then he said Her­bert Hoover didn’t have a chance of beat­ing FDR.

In no time, ghosts and gob­lins of ev­ery kind be­gan ooz­ing out of the city’s un­der­belly. I passed an in­ter­net cafe fur­ther up Michi­gan and saw a group of ghostly nerds us­ing their mas­tery over the web to spread lies about the can­di­date they loathed.

An­noyed by their an­tics, I walked down to the Billy Goat Tav­ern, for years a fa­vorite wa­ter­ing hole for the city’s old-school jour­nal­ists. I sensed the pres­ence of colum­nist Mike Royko there, and God knows we need more jour­nal­ists like him now.

Royko al­ways called it like he saw it. His pur­pose was to shed light on the truth, even if the truth hurt. He knew a great coun­try like ours had its share of cor­rup­tion, but in the end it was saved time and again by the fair­ness, the good­heart­ed­ness and the log­i­cal rea­son­ing of the Amer­i­can peo­ple — not to men­tion jour­nal­ists who were in the busi­ness of speak­ing truth to power, rather than push­ing one can­di­date over another.

In any event, all jok­ing aside, dead vot­ers are reg­is­ter­ing and vot­ing, and the Tri­bune ed­i­to­rial board ad­mits the city has a “long and ex­ten­sive his­tory of turn­ing out the grave­yard vote.”

The board shared some ex­am­ples.

One fel­low, Ray­mond Hicks, was a Chicago Demo­crat precinct cap­tain in the 27th Ward. He was leg­endary for his elec­tion-fraud ac­tiv­i­ties. Dur­ing a 1983 cor­rup­tion trial, the Tri­bune re­ported Hicks “told of vis­it­ing ev­ery ho­tel and flop­house in the West Side ward to pay for votes and lists of peo­ple who had died or moved and would not be vot­ing.” Such meth­ods were of­ten ef­fec­tive. Richard Nixon knows about it all too well. In 1960, John F. Kennedy’s fa­ther al­legedly was suc­cess­ful in pay­ing for such tac­tics to put Illi­nois in the win col­umn for JFK and help him take the pres­i­dency from Nixon.

Dead peo­ple will be vot­ing in this year’s elec­tion, too, which prob­a­bly makes sense. If this nutty elec­tion is any in­di­ca­tion, the coun­try is fast head­ing to an early grave.

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