Zombie Politics: Are Dead People Trying to Buy Our Elections?
The idea that the dead sometimes vote is nothing new: For a long period of history, the "graveyard vote" was a key demographic in many a crooked campaign. Recently, however, it has come to light that the dead don't just vote -- sometimes, they also donate money to their favorite candidates and parties. And, per the old Republican joke about corpses who cast ballots, dead donors tend to skew Democrat.
On Monday, USA Today reported the results of its analysis of Federal Election Commissions reports, which showed that, since January 2009, 32 major deceased donors have contributed almost $586,000 to the political process. $245,176 -- more than 41 percent -- went to the Democratic National Committee, while another $31,203 went to the Obama Victory fund. The rest was split among a wide variety of political causes.
It is perfectly legal for dead people to contribute to campaigns, although they're constrained by the same campaign limits as living ones. However, a case that is currently pending in federal appellate hopes to overturn those limits. The donor in question, a deceased Libertarian who used to live in Tennessee, attempted to leave $217,000 to the Libertarian party. If the case is successful, it could vastly change the political donation landscape -- in addition to greatly expanding Ron Paul's target demographic.
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(Just to be clear, dead people voting is in fact a laughably insignificant 'problem' in this country: From the 2000 to 2011 elections, there were a total of 2,068 cases of individual voter fraud, out of 900 million votes cast. Just 10 involved people showing up at the polls claiming to be someone they weren't. So whatever ever else we may have to fear from zombies, they aren't coming to eat our elections.)
Bruce Watson is the Savings Editor for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.