Electoral Inflation

A local newspaper article about the upcoming election mentioned the going rate for buying votes in Eastern KY this year is $75/vote! We’ve come a long way since the dollar and shot of whisky that I remember. In fact, it was 30 years ago, 1972, when I sat in a campaign organizational meeting and listened to a party hack read a precinct by precinct accounting of his Election Day expenses for the previous year’s Congressional election.


Along with the total number of dollars and half-pints per precinct, he threw in a somewhat politically incorrect demographic observation about the precincts where segments of the population preferred wine. One confused person asked if one dollar plus one half-pint equalled one vote. Roy was aghast. "Hell no! You don’t give away the whole half-pint! You give em a drink and put it back in your pocket!" I could just see him calculating the financial ruin that would be wrought on the party coffers if some clueless volunteer doled out a half-pint for each vote. I wonder what he thinks about this year’s $75 cost.
And of course, Kentucky political traditions are not well understood by some outsiders. I remember a couple of years ago, as I was standing in line to vote, a Yankee was holding things up by loudly complaining that her name was listed on the registration rolls twice, and wanted to know how to get it corrected. I said "Hell lady, quit complaining! It means you get to vote twice!" She turned to me and said scornfully "I don’t THINK so!" I said "Hell yeah, around here we vote early and often", to which she replied in her best Yankee bitch tone, "Not where I come from". I wanted to spit tobacco juice on her $500 shoes and tell her that if where she came from was so goddam superior, she could go back. But discretion prevailed (along with the fact that I don’t chew).
While Kentucky political traditions are colorful and amusing, I gotta admit the Florida Republicans have a more efficient system. Instead of all the shenanigans with stuffing ballot boxes, hauling voters, passing around bottles, chain balloting, etc., to pad the vote, they just throw out the ones they don’t want. Efficient maybe, but it just doesn’t seem sporting!

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