Campaigns/Elections

You Know, My Grandparents Used to Vote for Whoever Would Give Them a Ride to the Polls and a Turkey

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reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward is all over the voter-freebie beat in the empire's nation's capital, but the state of (U.S.) Georgia has expressly banned such patriotical giveaways:

State officials have ruled that giving free items to folks who voted—no matter the altruism involved—is illegal. Several businesses, like Starbucks, Ben and Jerry's, Krispy Kreme and even Zoo Atlanta had offered freebies or half-priced items to those sporting their "I voted" stickers.

But many now were backing off the original offer by expanding their election-day largesse to all.

"Businesses are free to offer election day sales to all its customers; but special offers just for voters is prohibited," said Matt Carrothers, spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State's office.

More here.

Here's a strange-but-true-tale of American democracy back in the good old days (i.e., the [first] Great Depression): My mother once told me that my Italian grandparents, who probably weren't registered to vote in the first place, used to vote for whoever would show up first on election day with food and transportation.

As we ponder a day that will almost certainly end in an Obama victory (helped along by an unprecedented $600 million in private funds and a rejection of the public financing that would have lowered the total amount of loot), take a few minutes to listen to former Federal Election Commission head Brad Smith talk about the turkey that is campaign-finance reform:

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NEXT: Election Day Freebie Watch: Part 2

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  1. “You Know, My Grandparents Used to Vote for Whoever Would Give Them a Ride to the Polls and a Turkey.”

    Fascinating!

  2. (i.e., the [first] Great Depression)

    You know before WWII they called WWI “The Great War”. I wonder if in twenty years the FDR years will be called “Depression I”, or maybe “Global Depression I”.

  3. There is a local Chipotle that has given away free burritos to voters on Election Day. I wonder if they know that what they’re doing is prohibited by law.

  4. helped along by an unprecedented $600 million in private funds

    I’d really like to ask politicians, especially those who want to “help the poor”, how they can justify spending so much money to get elected, instead of using that money to…help the poor.

  5. helped along by an unprecedented $600 million in private funds

    I’d really like to ask politicians, especially those who want to “help the poor”, how they can justify spending so much money to get elected, instead of using that money to…help the poor.

    Good point. The two campaigns could have picked up the entire tab for the ‘OMG WE HAVE TO TAKE THIS DEAL RIGHT NOW!!!! financial bailout’. If they cared more about the American people and less about their own ambition.

  6. Warren,
    600 Million is not 600 Billion. Not even close.

  7. The two campaigns could have picked up the entire tab for the ‘OMG WE HAVE TO TAKE THIS DEAL RIGHT NOW!!!! financial bailout’.

    It was 600 million, Warren, not 600 billion. But $600 million sure would pay for a lot of healthcare, winter heating oil, education, etc, right?

  8. Obama’s Victory:
    $600+ million

    The Bailout:
    $800+ billion

    Losing Hope in the Meaningless Cascade of Dollar Amounts Orders of Magnitude beyond Human Comprehension:
    gratis

  9. My grandfather told me that the Democrat machine in Albany used to mount mirrors over the voting booths. If you voted for the “right” candidate, the thugs campaign workers standing outside would give you $2 and a cigar.

  10. So, now that he has proven that the current public financing/campaign finance regulatory system is comprehensively broken and absurdly easy to game:

    what are the odds that Obama will do one thing to fix it as part of his Hope ‘n’ Change for the Little People?

  11. what are the odds that Obama will do one thing to fix it as part of his Hope ‘n’ Change for the Little People?

    Not very likely, if you ask me
    The catch is that if you didn’t use the public financing system and outraised your opponent, and won, you would be seen as trying to keep people from competing with you if you dismantled public financing
    If you used public financing and you won, it would be seen as a necessary program to suit the will of the people.

  12. Why bribe people into voting? Simply reward the ones that vote for you with post-election largess!

  13. Why bribe people into voting? Simply reward the ones that vote for you with post-election largess!

    I couldn’t help but think the same thing, ProL, when I heard this on the radio this morning.
    Starbucks can’t entice you to vote with a cup of coffee, but the candidate can entise you to vote with freebees
    WTF?

  14. Lost in the debate over the $600 million vs. $800 billion is this:

    Considering that there’s 300 million Americans, Obama’s $600 million of political advertising alone would have been enough to give every American – certainly every adult American – a two million dollar bailout to jump-start the economy and let each one of us declare our own war on poverty.

    How’s THAT for wealth redistribution? If nothing else, it would likely go a lot farther to solving the mortgage market meltdown than the government’s solution of tossing billions at Wall Street…

    And best of all, Obama would have actually been sharing out money freely donated by himself and his supporters…instead of handing out other peoples’ money confiscated at federal gunpoint and without the consent of the folks who actually earned it.

  15. Obama should do for campaign finance reform what Bill Clinton did for sexual harrassment. Really, at this point can the media say anything about the need for clean elections and public financing of such after their guy just spent 600 million dollars mostly coming from sources they won’t release? Is there any position the media actually beleives in and won’t roll over and take it in the ass if a Democrat asks them?

  16. Reinmoose,

    As long as 50+% can be bought off with goodies, all the parties have to do is to fight to convince those voters that they are the party of many prizes.

    If we’d only stop selling ourselves so cheaply, perhaps we’d have a better–and more limited!–government.

  17. Wow. The math on this thread is incredible. I’ve had to try to teach an 18 year old hondure?o algebra, and you guys are doing worse than he did.

    $2 mil for 300 mil people? That’s in the quadrillions. Obama could have given everybody in America less than $2.

    Warren, I understand yours was just a simple mistake. We should really all go to the metric system anyways. No way to confuse giga- and mega-bucks.

  18. There was a time when Democrats blasted George W. Bush for beating fundraising records for the Republicans. Where are these Democrats now?

  19. Wes,
    600 Million/300 Million =! 2 million

  20. Aaagh…so much for proofreading before posting. Guess I also got confused between millions and billions…and the $700 billion federal bailout package would have more than given everybody in the country two million dollars apiece.

    Obama’s campaign funding, on the other hand, would have only done that for the middle class.

  21. Umm, wrong again Wes. 700 billion divided by 300 million is about $2333 per American. Not anywhere $2 million…

  22. “Businesses are free to offer election day sales to all its customers; but special offers just for voters is prohibited,” said Matt Carrothers, spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

    I have never understood why this is so. As George Carlin once said “What else do you own, but you can’t sell?” He was talking about prostitution but the same applies here. Besides the fact that they weren’t endorsing a specific candidate, just encouraging people to vote.

    Why bribe people into voting? Simply reward the ones that vote for you with post-election largess!

    I couldn’t help but think the same thing, ProL, when I heard this on the radio this morning.
    Starbucks can’t entice you to vote with a cup of coffee, but the candidate can entise you to vote with freebees
    WTF?

    This is an excellent point. It doesn’t make much sense at all.

  23. If you guys were my accountants I’d be bankrupt or in jail right now. Jeez.

  24. Hire me, Poppy! I can do multiplication, and addition, but refuse to do division and subtraction. You’ll make millions!!

  25. Actually, $2 is precisely the right number. As in voters riding their bikes around, yelling “I want my two dollars!”

  26. ProL,

    A while ago somebody at the office was pooling money for lottery tickets. When we won 5 bucks, I asked him for my $.14, tongue-in-cheek. When I came back, I had 14 pennies on my desk. He didn’t even take an fee for getting the tickets. What a sucker!!!

  27. Not exactly related, but just a bit ago at the Florida Mall in Orlando, Fl. I was given a free venti mocha, apparently for being in uniform. Tipped $3.00. Seems to be different for every store. The one I went to this AM was regular service/price (but quite crowded, even at the drive-through). Very nice staff both places.

  28. Guy,

    When I was on active duty, people in Atlanta used to buy me lunch on such a frequent basis it embarassed me. The other great thing about being in uniform is that young hot chicks who wouldn’t give you the time of day out of uniform will smile and be so nice to you in a uniform.

  29. When I was on active duty, people in Atlanta used to buy me lunch on such a frequent basis it embarassed me.

    Same here, and it happens a lot down here in Orlando. We have to tell the staff at Cracker Barrel that if someone tries to buy our meals to say “thanks but no thanks”. The thing at Starbucks took me by surprise. Last time I was flying out of here the Seattle’s Best in the airport did the same thing and arguing did not do any good, so I just thanked them and left a good tip.

    The other great thing about being in uniform is that young hot chicks who wouldn’t give you the time of day out of uniform will smile and be so nice to you in a uniform.

    Yea, try a flight suit and it multiplies 🙂

  30. Anyone want to take odds that about three days after BHO’s victory is finally sealed, his campaign announces that, gee shucks, but it looks like about $200 million (or pick any whacking great number; it’s not that important) of that money we raised was actually illegal? Then the announcement, “We feel so strongly about Protecting the Integrity of Our Elections that now we’re going to refund it all.” Every last penny. And they then do exactly that . . . by extorting the necessary money from every special interest that doesn’t want itself bankrupted . . . like the coal industry.

  31. In high school, my Dad made some extra cash driving the pickup truck around the county to pick up those willing to vote in exchange for a pint of whiskey.

    Free KK donuts or Starbucks coffee is a felony in KY. We can thank my Dad, in part, for that law.

  32. In high school, my Dad made some extra cash driving the pickup truck around the county to pick up those willing to vote in exchange for a pint of whiskey.

    During the 1994 elections I mentioned to the lobbyist I was dating that I wanted to take my pickup to DC and give free rides to anybody who wanted to vote for Marion Barry. I could not understand why a heavily partisan Democrat would be so upset with that notion, especially since she lived in Reston, VA and her office was in Arlington, VA.

  33. Actually, $2 is precisely the right number. As in voters riding their bikes around, yelling “I want my two dollars!”

    I don’t care what anyone else says, this wins the thread.

  34. It always strikes me as such a waste that $600 million should have been sunk into one candidate’s campaign. Just think of all the other things that money could have gone for. The left loves to complain about the need for government initiatives for alternative fuels and alternative fuel vehicles and so on and so forth. Yet imagine if even half of that $600 million had been invested into research or development of such things. We’d be on our way to finding answers to one of the challenges of our time. But instead the money has gone to fund partisan rancor and divisiveness. The candidate of “unity”? Ha! Tell me another one.

  35. When I was on active duty, people in Atlanta used to buy me lunch on such a frequent basis it embarassed me.

    I’ve bought a few lunches for groups of enlisted men out and about here in town (a common sight; we have a training base). The pleasure is all mine.

    The best way, I think, is to flag the waitress and tell her to bring you the bill without telling the troops who picked it up for them. They generally tip the hell out of the waitress, from what I can tell. Everybody wins!

  36. Well, it really doesn’t matter how you vote.

    Either way, you’re gonna get a turkey.

  37. If only we could vote for a turkey!

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