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If not illegal, intrusion denigrates right

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

— I’ll tell you all the story about the joker and the thief of the night.

— Wolfmother

Because I will be using information in this column provided by someone who asked that (his/her) name and occupation not be mentioned — for reasons that will become obvious — I’d like to clear up a misconception some people obviously have.

Journalists live and die by the sources who provide them with information. People in general are anxious to share such information that is important to them and their community, but many are unwilling to go on record as a named source. Sometimes their reluctance is a matter of personal preference; other times it is all about self-preservation.

Even the veracity of unnamed sources is verified by credible journalists, though. And, in return, any journalist worth his or her salt will go to extreme limits not to reveal a source’s identity. It’s the way the business works.

All clear?

I got a second report recently from a reliable source who claimed that persons associated with Turner Job Corps in Albany are having students at the job training center register to vote in local elections and are then telling the students en masse who to vote for.

The source noted that most of the TJC students involved are not from the area and have very little interest in local politics. However, when many of the students were asked how they determined which candidates to support, they indicated they had been coached not only on how but also for whom to vote.

Normally, the deniability of the claim would keep me from mentioning it in this space. It’s easy enough to say the person making the claim had an ax to grind (not so in this case, but that’s beside the point) or the “he said, she said” argument is enough to cloud the issue beyond credibility.

I chose to bring up the accusation, however, because of personal experience.

When I was covering the Albany/Dougherty County government beat for this newspaper a few years ago, I traveled to one of the East Albany voting precincts on election day to do a story — based on a tip from a TJC supporter — about a large number of students at the center being bused to the precinct to vote for the first time. It was one of those feel-good stories I couldn’t resist.

I talked with Turner Job Corps officials who’d chaperoned the transport of students to the precinct, and then I randomly questioned some of the students. One young man spoke candidly about the process, and I ended up spending a little more time with him than I did some of the other students I interviewed.

As I was getting set to head back to the office, I encountered the young man once more. I told him I had one more question for him.

“You’re from another state and haven’t been here very long,” I started, basing my question on information he’d given me earlier. “Have you kept up with the campaign so that you could make a decision on which candidates to support?”

The young man gave me a crooked smile.

“Nah,” he said. “They told us who to vote for on the way over here.”

I pressed him on the comment, but he didn’t say who had coached the students on their vote. I asked one of the school chaperones about the young man’s remarks, and she denied having knowledge of such an exchange.

Not having more than the student’s claim to go on, I dropped the issue and had all but forgotten it when I heard from the aforementioned source that TJC students were being given a list of candidates and told to vote for those candidates in the most recent local elections.

“Obviously, the students are alone when they cast their votes,” the source said, “but it goes against all that is fair to coerce a large group of young people that has no interest in or knowledge of local politics to vote for a particular candidate. In a very close election, it could determine the outcome.”

While Turner Job Corps has had its share of bad publicity during its tenure in Albany, I have known a number of people who were administrators or staff members at the center who have had a positive impact on TJC students. I’ve also seen evidence of good things the center’s students have done in the community.

It would be a shame to see Turner Job Corps’ good works sullied by those who would use the sacred voting rights of individuals as a means of furthering their own selfish personal agendas.

Email Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

Comments

Abytaxpayer 2 years, 9 months ago

This is old news to most but the naïve in Albany? While not condoned by ASU the same has been happening there. Big push to register voters then steered on whom to vote for, while having no clue why they voted for the candidate except someone suggested they should.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

The Board of Regents found this out a few years back and told ASU to stop.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 9 months ago

That is why I was careful to say ASU did not condone it. According to several student I have spoke with it is still going on at ASU just not as an official function.

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gotanyfacts 2 years, 9 months ago

In the early years of our country it took a deal of effort to vote. Convenience was not expected. As a result, the people selecting our leaders tended to be both interested and knowledgeable, as the uninterested or ignorant were not willing to make the effort.. In general, both local and national elected officials tended to be of high quality. Over the years access to polling places became easier allowing even more interested citizens to vote. Increasing the number interested and knowledgeable the citizens that vote is good for the democracy. While dishonest politicians have forever “wagoned in” drunks and ne're-do-wells to get votes, changes in voting regulations have made it possible to reach larger numbers of this segment of our population. One side of the political spectrum has targeted this segment for years, realizing that they need the ignorant and easily manipulated voters to move their agenda. Remember ACORN? If you are not familiar with ACORN, you depend too much on broadcast news.

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LuLu 2 years, 9 months ago

The Secretary of State's office needs to hear about this.

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dingleberry 2 years, 9 months ago

Since the TJC is fed by Federal money, I would not be quick to say that the reported matter may not be illegal. Partisan politics is involved and one working for a funds recipient cannot tout voting for specific partisan candidates. Reminds me of the local retarded individual who was taken to the polls and had his vote "guided" by a person with the sponsoring agency in the 2008 election--guided to Democrats I might add.

I long for the days when voter "encouragement" was with a half pint of liquor--at least someone had to make an investment to reach the objective. Now, it is preached in the pulpit and the classroom with the usual consequence of what will happen if the vote is not "right"--just anonymous allegations, mind you.

We seem to have unending voter registration drives which, i might add, never try to register me even when the workers with clip boards walk past--the workers knew I was registered, right? And when we pass laws trying to keep rampant fraud from the process, a wild allegation on my part, there are cries that the law is an attempt to stifle the process for certain groups, generally the old, or minorities who are claimed to be the most affected. Now, at least one state has voting on the internet which will certainly remove all obstacles.

Do illegal things happen during elections? We will see when Mulholland gets through with his case in Brooks Co. If he wins, perhaps we can get someone to believe the same could have occurred in DoCo as reported recently by the Albany Journal, based on an allegation from another "anonymous source". After all, 2012 is coming and we need to get ready--it will be there.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

The AJ did report another anonymous source and the Herald made fun of the AJ for printing the story because the AJ wouldn't release the name and now the Herald is doing the same thing. I find this all too amusing.

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 9 months ago

Funny how that works, ain't it Kaos?

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 9 months ago

Yes, it is Jack_Frost. Yes it is indeed.

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justme 2 years, 9 months ago

What makes you think this is a problem. Go back to that neighborhood and listen to the Preachers. Most registered voters are regular church attendees and the voting block.

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