Have an apathetic electorate? One solution, VODKA FOR VOTES! The plan was to influence and an election in eastern Arkansas by having the voters, well, under the influence. The former Democratic Rep. Hudson Hallum who's awaiting sentencing in the scandal, said today:
I guess I always knew all along it was wrong, but I really didn't think it was that big a deal, I always heard ... that's what everybody did."
Hallum, along with three other members of his staff, pleaded guilty on federal charges of conspiracy to commit election during the election that put him in office in 2011. In total, nine members of the local Democratic party have been charged in relation to the scheme.
The charges came down from the state capital in Little Rock, where, according to the U.S. attorney's office, Hallum told co-defendant Phillip Wayne Carter, a West Memphis Councilman:
We need to use that black limo and buy a couple of cases of some cheap vodka and whiskey to get people to vote.
The attorney's office are saying that the Hallum camp bought liquor wholesale from a distributor in Memphis, Tennessee, purchasing 100 half pints of vodka for $200. Carter allegedly further added:
Folk gonna vote for whoever pay them,"
The Democrats in the area eventually reneged on the booze plan, but did illegally give money and food to potential voters. Hallum, along with his father, were further convicted of destroying votes for his Republican opponent.
Hallum picked up the victory with a margin of 394 to 67. His opponent Kim Felker spoke to Fox News about the scandal:
I was horrified,this is not a third-world country, this is east Arkansas, and this is something you hear of in another part of the world. ... The people in our district have been duped, really. And we are the ones who are suffering."
The rap sheet goes on, Hallum submitted absentee ballots on behalf of voters who didn't vote. How Hallum got caught was that a Republican voter offered to do the same things for Felker. Felker, being of better moral standing, declined.
Felker, and the Republican party, are turning in the issue into a clear example of "Voter Fraud", something the Democrats are adamant isn't a concern. Felker continued:
"I think my votes were not turned in, I had always been suspicious of that, but I thought maybe it was only a case of several, but I was shocked."
Felker said the experience has taught her that those who claim there is no voter fraud in the country should "come to my house and talk to me. There is voter fraud."
"The most fundamental rights we enjoy as American citizens include the ability to vote," declared U.S. Attorney Jane Duke, who prosecuted the federal case. "Voter fraud schemes ... have the devastating effect of eroding public confidence in elected officials and disenfranchising voters."
And regarding voter fraud, she said:
Don't just sit back and take it. If something is not right in our voting system, and it is messing with our democracy, you've got to step up and do something about it, because that's your most basic right, your vote. If that is compromised, then you are going to see democracy disappearing."