When I saw the pictures of the Woodbury Community Foundation’s Soiree Spooktakular this morning on the Woodbury Patch, I thought of Voter Fraud.
Now don’t worry, those good folks pictured were the epitome of fun and they worked raising money for worthy causes.
Dressing up for their Halloween Spooktakular reminded me fondly of when I dressed up as “The Raven” for a Halloween party few years ago. I couldn’t help but think of Edgar Allen Poe, the master of the macabre. You may remember Poe’s haunting stories, “The Raven”, “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Masque off the Red Death” to name a few. It is believed that Edgar Allen Poe had been kidnapped and forced to commit voter fraud in 1849.
Poe’s stories would begin with an eerie event, someone feeling tired, sick, weary, on a sad, dreary night; AND that would be the cheery part – misery, lonesomeness, death would be the subsequent theme. Poe’s own experiences tell a terribly woeful life story but through it all, he kept writing.
Poe tried desperately to ditch his problem with drinking. He’d wander the streets, disheveled and people expected him to turn up drunk.
On Election Day, 1849 Poe showed up at a bar called Ryan’s 4th Ward Polls in Baltimore. “Cooping” was a form of voter fraud in which backers of a candidate would force strangers to vote multiple times for their candidate dressing up in disguise. Potential voters at the time were kept in rooms. The payoff was free alcohol.
Poe was sick; some said it was from alcohol poisoning. Others believe he was delirious from contracting rabies. More believed he was beaten. He was found with clothes on that were not his own. Scholars believe that he may have been forced to change his garments in order to cast multiple votes. Victims of cooping were often beaten to force them to commit voter fraud.
At only 40 years old, Poe was left to die, penniless. And on his deathbed after the election, he called out the name “Reynolds” repeatedly, unable to formulate complete sentences.
Reynolds was the name of the polling official.
What do you think of these more pragmatic incentives to vote? 40 to 50 years later, votes were still paid for but at least it was not as dangerous and folks were not beaten. Political parties regularly paid voters $5 or $10 to cast the proper ballot; some payment came in the form of a keg of whiskey, a barrel of flour or, in the case of the 1890 New Hampshire Congressional race, a live pig!
Despite my efforts tonight to write about the voter id/voter fraud issues, my thoughts are on the hog. My vote could be courted for a hog - God be with the good old days. Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”. Yeah, I'm in the gutter, I’d be eyeing the hog!
Good luck tomorrow voting!!!!