By John F. Di Leo
At 10:00am Monday, a new face knocked on the door at party headquarters. A pleasant face, young, male, and clean-shaven, maybe about 16 or 17. You always welcome new volunteers, of course, but you don’t necessarily like them to just show up, unannounced and unintroduced, when they’re this young. You like… references. A lot goes on at party headquarters – a lot of private conversations, a lot of secret dealings. You don’t want spies in the place.
So it was, understandably, with a bit less than total exuberance that the committeeman, Bill Marcy, sent his associate, Pockets, to get the door and welcome in the new kid.
“What kin we do for ya?” asked Pockets, as cheerfully as he could fake.
“I’m here to help out. My parents said I was old enough to make myself useful to the party. Stuff fundraising letters, address envelopes, fold and collate… whatever you need!”
“Do we, uh, know your parents?” Bill asked.
“Probably,” replied the lad. “I’m Paul Syerov. Pavel, actually, after my dad, but I just go by Paul. My folks are Pavel and Sonia Syerov.”
Pockets whispered to his Boss, “I remember them… big in one of the local unions… they were both shop stewards, I think.”
Bill Marcy brightened as it clicked. “Then we can trust him. All is well, Pockets, all is well.” To the boy he asked “So whaddaya wanna do today? We got precincts to walk, if you’re up to a little exercise.”
“Sure, if it’s close enough that I won’t get lost.”
“Don’t worry, son, we’ve got maps, marked pollsheets, everything we need. We know every resident, who’s registered and who’s not, and why… we know who votes early and who votes late…. And we need to know even more. That’s the current project.”
Little Pavel was confused. “I figured you’d just have me do stuff envelopes in the office when I was starting out. You’ll trust me to walk precincts? You don’t even know me!”
“Don’t need to. You’re a son of Pavel and Sonia Syerov? You may as well be the offspring of George Meany and Gloria Steinem. You come from good stock, son. We trust you.”
Pockets approached, carrying a bag of brochures (with the catchy headline “Raising Taxes and Raising Hopes”) along with a hefty clipboard. “Go to every door, noting the exact time and day of the week you hit that door. Hand them this brochure, and ask them a few questions. Easy. It’s all on your script here. And just mark the answers in this checklist… see, there’s one checklist for every resident.”
“So much for saving trees, huh?” chuckled Pavel.
“Look here,” grumbled the boss, “if we could afford to pass out laptops or iPads to our volunteers to save trees like the rich Republicans can, we would. But we’re the people’s party; we don’t have that kinda money. It’s just old-fashioned, tried-and-true questionnaires for us. It’s worked for a hundred years; there’s nothing wrong with it.”
Pavel grinned. “Hey, I was just kidding. I love paper. It keeps Wisconsin paper mills in business.” Almost forgetting himself, he quickly added “And they’re union, too, after all!”
“Yeah, right.” Pockets continued for the boss. “So you just fill in their answers on the questionnaires and bring ‘em back here, and we input the info into our computers.”
Pavel started reading the questions. They began with simple things like “Are you satisfied with the job that President Obama is doing, considering what an awful mess was left for him by the Bush Administration?” and “Are you happy with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid?” But then it went on to a surprising level of detail about their personal lives. “What time of day do you usually vote?” “Do you get to take the day off on election day, or do you have to vote on your way to or from work, or during lunch?” “Do you ever travel out of town around election day?” “Do you expect to be in town or on a trip this year on election day?” It went on for another page of details.
Pavel asked “Some of this stuff seems kind of personal. Why do we ask this stuff about their hours at work, and whether people have anybody at home all day or not… and whether single moms have home care for their kids, or the elderly have in-home or visiting caregivers?”
Pockets smiled. “It’s for the November gotvee.”
“Gotvee? Never heard of that term.” Pavel was puzzled. “What does gotvee mean?”
“Sorry for the jargon” said Pockets. “I think I made that up. It’s how I pronounce GOTV, for Get Out The Vote, based on Dick Simpson’s book, but the machine has refined it since then.”
“Oh, I get it. I’ve heard of that. It’s the party process for knowing who’s voting our way and who’s not, so we know who to push for absentee ballots, who to call if they haven’t shown up at the polls by noon, or by three, or by six. Right? Karl Rove is always on TV boasting about being the king of GOTV.”
“He’s an amateur. He’s good for a Republican… but they’re not as good as we are.” The boss smiled with pride and hooked his thumbs in his suspenders as he continued. “We know how to really use this info to the utmost. The Republicans and their money and their pinstripe suits and their mailing lists… they get everything ya need, but then they waste half of it.”
Pavel was getting more comfortable with them as the conversation continued, so he asked his biggest question yet. “There’s one thing I don’t quite get. You guys don’t look nervous.”
“Why should we?”
“Well, the papers are saying that the Democrats are gonna be trounced this November. That we don’t have a chance – that we’ll lose the House and maybe the Senate too – that there’s nothing we can do about it, with the polls and the economy and the unemployment numbers where they are now. That this is gonna be like 1980 and 1994 combined. But you guys don’t look worried. Why don’t we close up the offices and husband our resources for 2012?”
Boss Marcy patted the youngster on top of the head. “Don’t you worry about the polls. Polls don’t tell a good organization to give up; they just tell you what you need to do. The worse the polls get, the more we have to concentrate on… non-traditional methods, that’s all.”
“What does that mean?”
“Oh, we’ll tell ya when you’re older, son. You’re a little young for some of this stuff. It’s complicated.”
“By the way,” interjected Pockets. “You registered to vote yet?”
“Can’t, sir. I’m only 17.”
“When will you be 18?”
“Not ‘til next spring.”
“Close enough for government work!” Pockets uncapped his pen, a cheap ballpoint with a bent cap and the name of a convention hotel on the side. “Let’s fill out a couple forms, shall we?”
Five minutes later, Pavel was registered to vote, ready to celebrate his new 18th birthday on Labor Day. A nice touch, that, for the son of two shop stewards, he thought.
Over the next few weeks, as he helped out at headquarters every day, Pockets and the boss came to trust him, and grew less guarded in conversation. Pavel finally pieced it all together, and came to understand why the local party had no fears for the results on General Election Day, 2010.
“We gather the same information everywhere, see, but different states specialize in different methods,” explained Pockets one day, after more than a couple of beers.
“See, everybody’s different at different things, different techniques. You got your New Orleans guys, for example. They’ve got the buses. You fill a bus up with people and pollsheets, and drive to every approved polling place in the city (that is, every one where we have all the judges on our side). At each stop, you give everybody a name and an address from that pollsheet of somebody who’s dead, or moved away, or we know won’t be there on election day. The same 44 people can vote twenty times that way, and that’s just one busload. New Orleans has lots and lots of buses!”
“And ya know the Indian tribes?”
“You mean, the Native American tribes, right?” corrected Pavel, gently.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Well,” continued Pockets, “we beat John Thune the first time by having a bunch of ‘em come in from Minnesota, from North Dakota, from wherever we had a reservation and a bus. They just said they were from South Dakota, and since the election judges weren’t from the reservation, and they couldn’t keep straight all those Indian names like Red Arrow and Black Feather and Dancing Wolf anyway, they let ‘em all vote. Got another term for Tim Johnson that way in 2002!” Pockets cheered as he chugged another beer in celebration.
Pavel asked “Doesn’t the public object to having their votes stolen?”
Pockets laughed out loud. “Object? Heck, they’re totally in on it! In some places, they do it themselves, so we don’t even hafta do anything at all! Look at the snowbirds of New York. They have two homes, one in New York and one in Florida, right? They live in each home about six months of the year, right? So they register in both. The idea is that you only vote in one per election, whichever one you’re really hanging out in at the time… but it’s not enforced. Studies indicate that somewhere between 20,000 and 46,000 people are dual-registered between Florida and New York. 12,788 in Palm Beach County in 2007 alone! How many of them actually took advantage of the opportunity, we don’t know for sure… but certainly lots!”
Pavel thought a minute longer. “You know, we moved to our new house about five years ago, and every time my folks vote, they give their address and the judges say ‘Philip and Elizabeth Windsor?’ But that’s the people who lived there before, and they’ve never been removed from the rolls. We’ve told them … we’d had canvassers from the county ask every election, and we always tell them honestly that they’ve moved away. But they’re still on the books!”
Pockets just smiled.
Pavel asked another question. “Is there any truth to those old rumors that precinct captains would copy names off the gravestones in cemeteries and register corpses to vote?”
“Oh, I wouldn’t know about that,” said Pockets. “That was before my time. Think about it… only half the American public registers to vote, and of them, only somewhere between fifty and eighty percent actually shows up to vote, even on election day. So as long as you do your homework and know what names are available for the taking, there’s more than enough there so you never hafta file a fraudulent registration (though some do, of course). Not that anyone actually prosecutes for it, of course!”
Pavel was careful in asking questions about the Republicans. Even as the son of a shop steward, there was a certain inflection that true believers expected to hear in the voice of someone saying the word “Republican” – and if you lack that delicate balance of hatred and condescension, you lose their trust. But he had to ask.
“Why do the Republicans put up with it? Why don’t they stop us?”
Pockets smiled. “Books have been written on that question, Paully. Nobody knows. Maybe they don’t wanna meddle in the dirt. Maybe they don’t wanna admit to themselves that’s it’s happening, or that it’s as large as it is. Maybe they’re afraid of how we’d turn it back on them, shouting that they’re trying to disenfranchise the homeless, the elderly, people who’ve lost their homes… call ‘em racist, sexist, homophobe… ya know. All the usual charges. It doesn’t matter why. Suffice that they let us do it. As long as we get away with it, it’s ours for the taking!”
Pavel pressed the issue. “But what if the Republicans do prosecute someday? Don’t we run a terrible risk?
Pockets pulled a tiny news article out of his drawer, and read it aloud. “Eric Holder Drops Charges Against Black Panthers. If the DoJ drops a prosecution against thugs with nightsticks, intimidating voters at Philadelphia polling places, when they’ve got ‘em dead to rights… then obviously anything goes, Paully! We can do anything and get away with it. They let us mail in fake ballots on election day in Washington (that’s how we beat Dino Rossi). They let us register illegal aliens in California (that’s how we beat “B-1 Bob” Dornan!). They let us register non-citizens when they get their driver’s licenses (what do you think Motor Voter is for?)… there’s no limit on us, Paully, we can do whatever we please.”
“And the Republicans don’t ever object?”
“Once every ten years, some conservative like John Fund or Hugh Hewitt writes a book. That’s all. If they ever end vote fraud, we’ll never win another majority. But that’ll never happen.”
“But what if it does?”
“Don’t worry, Paully, by the time the GOP wakes up and ends vote fraud, we’ll have passed a broad enough amnesty that the illegals will all be citizens. And that’s another twenty or thirty million Democrats right there. So don’t worry, son. As long as the Republican Party keeps sticking its head in the sand, we’re gonna be just fine. And Republicans like sticking their heads in the sand; they’re happiest that way.”
“Even though the polls indicate that the GOP is ahead of us by ten points or more?”
“Paully, we can steal twenty points in most states without breaking a sweat.” The old pol smiled as he cracked open another beer. “We’ve got nothing to worry about.”
Copyright 2010 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance trainer. A longtime fan of Ayn Rand’s masterpiece, “We the Living,” he always wondered what would have happened if her villainous party loyalists had somehow wound up here in the States… and he wishes that this conception had turned out more fictional than it did.
Permission is hereby granted to forward this article freely, provided it is uncut and the byline and IR URL are included.
This was the first episode in The Tales of Little Pavel. I had gotten about two-thirds of the way through it, when I left the computer for a while, thinking about abandoning it as too odd an adventure for my kind of writing… but my then 12-year-old daughter Kat saw it, sat down and read it, and changed my mind!
Dozens more episodes in the ongoing Tales of Little Pavel, all concerning various examples of the many different forms of vote fraud practiced by America’s Democrats, can be found in Illinois Review.