Through most of the 19th century, “machine politics”, as epitomized by the infamous Democratic-affiliated Tammany Hall, dominated New York City. While organizations like Tammany helped empower the Irish who came to New York en masse during the 19th century, they were also extremely corrupt, using everything from bribes to ballot stuffing to gang violence to ensure the Democrats stayed in power. And history, as the saying goes, repeats itself.
One Virginia college student this week, Andrew Spieles, was sentenced to 100 days in prison for submitting fraudulent voter registration forms
listing the names of dead people for a political organization connected to the Democratic Party. No gang wars, sure, but still, registering dead voters does sound like something that a corrupt political machine would do. A student at James Madison University (who clearly didn’t pay attention during his US history class), Spieles worked as a staffer for Harrisonburg Votes in 2016, and was paid to register as many voters in the area before the election as possible. He entered voter information into a computer system used by the Virginia Democratic Party, which would be delivered to the Registrar’s Office in Harrisonburg each week.
Last August, the office recognized the name of a dead person, and from there found numerous falsified forms, such as the names of deceased individuals and incorrectly entered personal information. Spieles admitted that he prepared these false voter registration forms through “walk sheets” given to him by the Virginia Democratic Party, although said that he and he alone was involved. This could just be the actions of a dumb kid who wanted to get a bigger paycheck. It could also be the sign of something darker. Of course, the Democrats needed all the votes that they could get in Virginia, a swing state, this past November.