Dead people ARE voting

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

With Halloween so close to the November election, we may as well bring up the obvious link between ghouls and political hacks: Dead people are voting.

Reports are popping up around the country about deceased people who continue to vote, as recently reported by a Denver television station. That report prompted the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board to publish a tongue-in-cheek editorial in which the editors admitted that dead people have influenced the outcome of Chicago elections for many years.

That reminded me of an odd experience I had in Chicago just before election time a decade or so ago.

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I was in town on business for six or seven weeks and spent many spare hours touring the blues joints and restaurants that are legendary there. And then one night, after enjoying a wee few adult beverages, I swear I saw dead people marching up and down Michigan Avenue, stuffing their pockets with voter registrations and absentee ballots.

They looked liked extras in a George Romero flick.

I vaguely recall striking up a conversation with one of them. He said he was a member of the American Association of Dead People and that if any Republican tried to suppress his vote, the American Civil Liberties Union would be crawling over the suppressor faster than you could say “Jesse Jackson.” Then he said Herbert Hoover didn’t have a chance of beating FDR.

In no time, ghosts and goblins of every kind began oozing out of the city’s underbelly. I passed an Internet cafe further up Michigan and saw a group of ghostly Internet nerds using their mastery over the web to spread lies about the candidate they loathed.

Annoyed by their antics, I walked down to the Billy Goat Tavern, for years a favorite watering hole for the city’s old-school journalists. I sensed the presence of columnist Mike Royko there, and God knows we need more journalists like of him now.

Royko always called it like he saw it. His purpose was to shed light on the truth, even if the truth hurt. He knew that a great country like ours had its share of corruption, but in the end it was saved time and again by the fairness, the good-heartedness and the logical reasoning of the American people — not to mention journalists who were in the business of speaking truth to power, rather than pushing one candidate over another.

In any event, all joking aside, dead voters are registering and voting and the Chicago Tribune editorial board admits that the city has a “long and extensive history of turning out the graveyard vote.”

The board shared some examples.

One fellow, Raymond Hicks, was a Chicago Democrat precinct captain in the 27th Ward. He was legendary for his election-fraud activities.

During a 1983 corruption trial, the Tribune reported that Hicks “told of visiting every hotel and flophouse in the West Side ward to pay for votes and lists of people who had died or moved and would not be voting.” Such methods were often effective. Richard Milhous Nixon knows about it all too well. In 1960, John F. Kennedy’s father allegedly was very successful paying for such tactics to put Illinois in the win column for JFK and help him take the presidency from Nixon.

The Times cites a report by Earl Mazo, a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, who was shocked to learn that dead people really did vote in the 1960 election. He found a cemetery in which “the names on the tombstones were registered and voted” for JFK.

In any event, dead people will be voting in this year’s election, which probably makes sense. If this nutty election is any indication, and it is, the country is fast heading to an early grave.


Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Email Tom at