Wednesday, April 06, 2011

When the election fraud gets obvious ...

... it's impossible not to notice.

I'm not sure it changed the outcomes in my city's mayoral and alderperson elections -- and I don't think it was really intended to -- but it visibly impacted the numbers involved.

In 2007, Greendale Missouri had a total of 550 registered voters, 138 (25.9%) of whom voted in that April's mayoral and alderperson elections.

In 2008 -- smack in the middle of Obamamania and the attention on the presidential primaries in overwhelmingly Democratic north St. Louis County, Missouri -- 89 Greendale voters (15.86% of the city's 561 registered voters) voted in April.

April of 2009: 92 votes (16.17% of 569 registered).

April of 2010: 151 (27.61% of 547 registered).

[All of the above numbers per the St. Louis County Board of Elections web site]

Yesterday, according to unofficial counts from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, turnout in Greendale was 43.69%, if registered voters remain at 547 (unlikely -- Greendale has continued to lose population over the last year): 239 voters. Moreover, that turnout was split almost evenly between two wards, one of which had a contested alderperson race and one of which didn't.

In neighboring Bel Nor, turnout appears to have jumped from 34% in April of 2010 to a whopping 84.5% yesterday (that's a higher turnout percentage than any precinct in the area in November of 2008!).

The Greendale voters went overwhelmingly against one candidate for two offices -- a multi-term alderperson (Chandra Coughley) who was running both for re-election and for mayor (if she won both, the alderperson seat would have been filled by appointment). Coughley has a pretty good reputation within the city from such things as writing grants for federal improvement money, etc.

Running against Coughley for mayor was Monica Huddleston, herself a former mayor and someone who remains continuously active in the community.

Running against Coughly for alderperson was Doris Trocjak, herself a former alderperson and someone who remains continuously active in the community.

Results for mayor: Huddleston 212, Coughley 27.
Results for Alderperson: Trocjak 103, Coughley 25.

If you believe that area voter turnout actually jumped that much, and that the results actually fell out that way, I've got some oceanfront property to sell you, sight unseen.

Let me be perfectly clear on two things here:

First, I doubt that the vote fraud changed those two Greendale outcomes.

Secondly, I don't believe that Huddleston and Trocjak had anything to do with the vote fraud. They were merely its unintentional beneficiaries due to the fraudsters making the mistake of marking false ballots all one way in the race they weren't trying to affect.

Based on past turnout and on the assumption that all of Coughley's votes were genuine, my rough guess is that Huddleston beat Coughley for mayor by about 75 or 80 votes to 27, and that Trocjak beat Coughley for alderperson by about 50-25.

I'm basing that guess on my own past experience in Greendale elections (I've personally managed campaigns for one winning candidate for office and two defeats of local ballot measures), and on observed factors:

Huddleston, Trocjak and Alexander Herman (an unopposed candidate for a second alderperson position) ran as a ticket, worked hard, knocked on doors, got signs out, worked the polls, and were relentlessly positive.

Coughley ran solo, worked hard, knocked on doors, and got signs out. I even got an automated text message from her reminding me to vote (I don't vote, and she knew that, but she asked anyway). But she didn't have as much of a presence at the polling place as her opponents, and her campaign wasn't as positive as her opponents' campaign (even when Monica Huddleston feels the need to attack, she does so with a smile on her face and in the friendliest language she can come up with; Coughley's allusions to her opponents were negative/reactive).

Based on that -- and I said nothing about this to any of the three ladies in advance, as I consider them all friends -- I guessed that Coughley would likely lose. I suspected she might lose by as much as a 2-1 margin in the second ward mayoral vote (Coughley lives in first ward, Huddleston in the second), and by perhaps 55-45% in first ward for alderperson and/or mayor.

She did not lose by nearly 9 to 1 citywide, nor did she lose by 4 to 1 in first ward. Not no way, not no how.

The obvious -- and likely correct -- conclusion to draw is that the Lacey Clay (US Representative, 1st District Missouri) and/or Charlie Dooley (St. Louis County Executive) machines were stuffing ballot boxes as fast as they could go to put Democrat Jake Zimmerman over the top versus Republican LJ "Chip" Wood in the first county assessor election in 51 years, and forgot to tell their stuffers "make it look at least a little realistic -- split the fake ballots evenly on the other races."

The Clay machine is particularly ham-handed at vote fraud. In 2000, when Dooley ran against Clay for Congress (Clay's father was retiring) in the Democratic primary, I went to bed at 10:30 pm, with 95% of precincts -- all of those except the city precincts controlled by the Clay machine -- counted and Dooley leading Clay 65-35%. By the next morning, those 5% of remaining precincts had come in fresh from the graveyards and ballot printing facilities, swinging the vote 180 degrees. It was unbelievable.

Almost as unbelievable as this.

But not quite.

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