Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting Irregularities in Virginia and the Byrd Organization

When the Republican putsch put the Bush administration into power in this country in 2000, thus ending democracy and destroying the credibility of the Supreme Court in many people's eyes, there were some of us who were, and are, adamant that the issues of voting procedure had gone on far too long and needed to be dealt with now, completely, fairly across districts, and as comprehensively as possible.

To a Southerner who is tired of being bashed by ignorant Westerners and Northerners for being from a "racist part of the world", this was a particularly low moment.   "Fix the fucking voting machines, ok?" we thought to ourselves. This has been going on long enough.

But there have always been voting irregularities in American politics and some elections are more famous for this than others. Important political dynasties were created out of creative control of voting procedures, one need only think of the Daley machine in Chicago to pick one notable example.  The South had their political machines as well of course, and the one in Virginia from the mid 1920's through most of the 1960's was called the "Byrd Organization" led by former governor and US Senator Harry Byrd. These were Southern Democrats of the old school.

Governor and US Senator Harry F Byrd

So one day, sometime in the 1930's, my dad and his first wife went to vote in Virginia Beach, Virginia where they lived. All polling places have publicaly posted a list of who is registered to vote in that precinct and whether they have voted that day or not. This is all to reduce fraud and to increase confidence that the people who vote are eligible to vote and have only voted once.

The father of my dad's first wife had died many years before. But since he was a good democrat, he not only continued to be registered in his precinct, he had also voted that day, demonstrating excellent party loyalty.

I am sure nothing like that happens today, of course.

The Wikipedia page for the Byrd Organization:

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