Thursday, October 28, 2004

Voter Registration Troubles

The following story ran today in the Index, the campus newspaper of Truman State University, located in Kirksville:

Lost registrations jeopardize votes By Index Staff Published: Thursday, October 28, 2004

Misplaced voter registration cards might leave some students ineligible to cast their ballots Nov. 2.

Students who filled out voter registration forms to vote in Adair County through on-campus organizations and have not yet received a verification letter should call the Adair County Clerk's office immediately to make sure they are registered, Adair County Clerk Jon Cook said.

"Unless they have received that verification notice, we may not have their card," Cook said.

Senior Evan Montgomery, president of College Democrats, said he registered with the College Democrats, who gave their forms to Rock the Vote. He said he called the county clerk's office Wednesday and found out he was not registered to vote in Adair County.

Montgomery said he decided to call and request an absentee ballot from his hometown because his voter registration was not canceled as it would have been if he had successfully registered in Adair County.

"I feel bad for people who find it out right now and can't vote unless they make a trip back home," he said. "What are they going to do?"

The last day to register to vote in Missouri was Oct. 6, and Wednesday way the last day to request absentee ballots.

Junior Renee Taylor said she also had problems with her registration form. She said she received an incorrect verification letter after registering through one of the campus political groups. The letter bore the name of another student who shared the same first and last name but had a different middle name.

Taylor said she then called the county clerk's office to verify her registration.

"[Someone at the clerk's office] said, 'Well, we don't have your form,' and they weren't going to let me vote," Taylor said.

She said she called junior Sarah Saheb, Rock the Vote midwest regional coordinator, who helped her talk to the county clerk.

"I was actually really upset because the election is really, really close, and this is my first time voting," Taylor said.

Taylor said she had to fill out a new voter registration form, and she is now registered.

Saheb said Rock the Vote tracked voter registration forms at all times and made a copy of each card before giving it to the county clerk.

"Everybody who manned tables was trained by us, and we made sure everybody knew how to register people to vote, and they knew the laws," Saheb said. "It's not a difficult process to help people register to vote."

She said those who volunteered to sign people up to vote were each given a packet of voter registration forms. When the volunteers turned the packets back in, all of the forms had to be accounted for, she said.

Saheb said that anyone who registered to vote in Adair County through a student organization and has not received a voter verification letter should call the county clerk at 665-3350 to make sure they are registered to vote.

If someone goes to the polls on Election Day and is told he or she is not registered to vote, he or she should request a provisional ballot, according to Rock the Vote's Web site.

After the polls close, the state will look for any mistakes with the person's voter registration and then inform the individual if his or her was vote counted.

So, who is at fault for this mistake? I spoke with Megan Gibbard, a member of Rock the Vote in Kirksville; she said that it seems unlikely that the Rock the Vote organization is at fault; they made copies of every registration form that they collected before turning them over to the County Clerk. Gibbard says, “[The County Clerk’s office] says they never got the forms.” So, perhaps some registration forms were lost in transit from the Rock the Vote Headquarters to the County Clerk’s office. It is a volunteer organization made up of college students. Surely it was Rock the Vote that made the mistake and not the responsible elected officials and paid, trained workers at the Adair County Clerk’s office. Then how do you account for me?

On October 4, I went to the County Clerk’s office to change my registration from my Livingston County (containing Chillicothe, where I sometimes call home) to Adair County so that I did not have to vote via absentee ballot. The woman behind the counter asked me for my current local address and other cursory questions, typed on the computer for a while, filled out a voter registration card for me, and dated and stamped it with a seal before handing it to me. I asked her if there was anything else I needed to do. She told me there was not. Apparently, she was wrong.

Hours ago I received a phone call from Gibbard informing me that I was not registered to vote in Adair County. She informed me that Rock the Vote had obtained a list of all people registered to vote in this county and were comparing it to the list of 1400 students that they had registered over the past three weeks on campus. “We’re to the ‘M’s and we’ve already found 200 missing registrations,” she said. I was very confused because, although I had been registered through Rock the Vote, I had also physically gone into County Courthouse, up the stairs, and into the Clerk’s office, and spoken directly with someone whom I believed to be a responsible county employee. I had watched as my registration information was supposedly entered into some database. I had physical evidence that I had been there on that day: a handwritten, dated, and seal-stamped voter registration card. How could it be possible that I was not registered to vote in Adair County?

Furthermore, many other students who may or may not have registered in person at the County Courthouse but did receive voter registration cards are missing from the registered voter list, according to Gibbard. With this information it seems unlikely that Rock the Vote is responsible for the hundreds – how many, is still yet to be determined – of missing voter registrations of students on the Truman State University campus.

There have been several cases of apparent voter registration fraud occurring around the nation recently, in Florida, New York, Nevada, and Oregon. There even seems to be something fishy going on around the St. Louis area. New York, Las Vegas, St. Louis: These are all important places where important things happen. But in the quiet, small college town of Kirksville, Missouri, who would have guessed that something similar may be going on?

It may be a bit early to start shouting “scandal” and “voter registration fraud,” but no one can deny that there have been suspicious goings on recently in the Adair County Clerk’s office in Kirksville. There are voters who thought they were registered, received registration cards, but are not registered. There are hundreds of students’ registration forms that seem to have vanished. Should we chalk this one up as incompetence, or is it possible that someone misplaced the students’ forms on purpose? Jon E. Cook himself, Adair County Clerk, said recently that some people do think that students should not be allowed to vote in Kirksville because they do not pay taxes there, according to an October 14, 2004 article in the Index. Does this have something to do with the disappearance of 200+ student registration forms? Or is that just a convenient coincidence? Either way, there is going to be a large mob of angry students come election day if we are denied our right to vote, and I will be one of those angry students, and we will be heard.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Dizzy Dance

Even worse than dancing to hip-hop am I at dancing with young interested ladies.

"You have pretty eyes," she says.
"I know," I respond.

I make a much better wallflower.

The instructor professes, "Gentlemen, pull your partner into your cradle."
"Get in my cradle, bitch," I say playfully. I receive a displeased punch in the stomach for my crude words.

ES 159 - Social & Country Western Dancing (1 credit hour) is one of the most fun classes I've taken. Kelly is one of best dance partners I've ever had.

"Are you still my partner?" I ask, almost as an apology.

I can get the moves; I can do the pretzel and the jitterbug and the pull-bys and all that, for the most part.

I'm not sure what happened, but Kelly ended up dancing with Chris, and I with Shayna. We were both confused.

After class she said, "You can be Shayna's partner if you want. I'll dance with Chris."
I nodded and let out a disappointed, "OK."

I can do all the moves, but the hardest part is making the moves look good, using flow and grace.

The teacher assigned Jordan as my new partner.

She leaned over and whispered to me, "I thought you were going to be partners with Shayna."
"She already had a partner," I whispered back.
"Oh, sorry." She looked perplexed. "I guess I was just confused."
"Me too."
"Do you hate me now?"
"Oh yeah, I do," I say jokingly. Sometimes I don't think my humor goes over well; she just stares at me.

I'm also not very good at leading. I'm either too forceful or too timid.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I'm convinced: Non-traditional (old) students have lost all creativity, intelligence, and humbleness from being out in "the real world."

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

(It's My Blog and I'll Cry if I Want To)

The image of myself that I've created for you is the one I thought you'd want to see, the one I thought would please you. It wasn't perfect, and I knew you didn't expect that. But it was mostly "good" or mostly "cool" or mostly "strong" or mostly something that I thought you'd like.

Silly me.

Apparently people don't want to see an image of me, no matter how pleasing the image. It could be perfect or perfectly imperfect. Either way, they want to see the parts of me that I've kept out of view, the parts that I don't even like, and the parts that I hide even from myself.

So, I'm going to try to do that for you; show everything. Not really for your benefit, but for mine. Because by the end of this thing (post?, weblog?, life?) I won't have to be the hundreds of different me's that I've been being, one for everyone I know. I can just be the one and only Zach, if a single one does exist. I guess that single one will be discovered here. Stay tuned.

Circa Now