Exploitation of the Mentally Challenged: Voter Fraud
On election night, November 2nd, 2010, I called my brother. Jokingly, I asked him who he voted for, positive that I would get some silly answer. Instead, Lee said, "I won't do that no more", in a hushed and seemingly ashamed/guilty voice. Lee's answer was an obvious red flag. I needed to dig deeper.
It turned out that a man, unknown to Lee, took Lee into a voting booth and told/showed Lee which buttons to push. Lee didn't know a Congressman from a Garbage-man. Something was up.
I was livid! It is one thing to "help" a Mentally Challenged person vote, but quite another thing to USE the Mentally Challenged person to vote for someone else's choice of candidates.
Still fuming, I fired off an email to Fox TV in NY which was the only TV Network that had a special email set up for Voter Fraud, and within 20 minutes, I received a phone call from Eric S., an Anchor there, who said that I had opened up a "national can of worms".
me if I had a Camcorder to get Lee's rendition of what happened on film. Coincidentally,
we were just going to visit Lee for his 60th, had planned a party for him and had just
purchased a Camcorder for the event.
We were able to film Lee's rendition of what happened, but since the Camcorder was brand new, it took us 4 or 5 tries of myself interviewing Lee at our hotel, and for Mike to quickly learn how to operate the new camcorder. Needless to say, Lee, who is not known for his patience, was getting disgusted with all of the "takes" and it is quite obvious on film.
Nevertheless, we got what we wanted.
I did my own investigation, personally meeting with and calling various persons involved in the voting process in Lee's precinct. I put together a detailed report, including each time my brother had voted and who the very person was who took my brother into a booth to vote- forced to push the buttons of the "strange man's" choices.
This report was sent to Eric S. at Fox. When he received it, he called and said the report was excellent and that I should be the Investigator-no-- I should be the Producer! Of course, he was kidding, but it was a damned good report! At that same time, he was hoping to investigate other "voter fraud" cases, and was positive that this kind of exploitation of the Mentally Challenged was not "new" and not "isolated". After this happened to my brother, I also realized, with disgust, just how very easy it could be to take political advantage of someone who is Mentally Retarded or Autistic or those suffering from Dementia or Alzheimers.
No matter what political party you are aligned with, would you want someone else to push voting buttons for you or your loved one, enabling a stranger's political agenda? Given that we will all end up in Nursing Homes or be at the mercy of a Caretaker someday, or have a mom, dad or close relative in a Nursing Home now, perhaps with Alzheimers-wouldn't you feel outraged if the same "exploitation" occurred?
Eric and I kept in close touch. He wanted to video-tape an interview with me and said that he would like to come to Georgia to my home on January 19, 2011 with his Producer, and his Camera Crew.
This was very exciting-FOX News flying from NY to tape an interview with me!! By now, approximately one year since I had taken Levaquin and had some of the pain from my adverse drug reactions sort of "quieted" by various medications, all kinds of thoughts were going through me:
I decided to not worry about any of that. I had enough problems.
On January 19, 2011 at noon, three people arrived, right on time. Eric S., his Producer, Meredith, and Cameraman, Tom. It took a while to decide which room in my house would best be suitable for the filming. Once it was decided that the sunken Great Room was perfect and the furniture was moved and the lighting was in place, the interview started. Prior to starting the official interview, Eric, Meredith, Mike and I chatted about many things, the main one being the Exploitatlon of the Mentally Challenged and what steps could be taken to avoid it from happening:
These were just some of the thoughts that were discussed, but in reality, there are many more questions/concerns and so few answers. Eric encouraged me to contact a Congressman in Allegheny County, where Lee lives, who happens to be a Psychologist-Dr. Tim Murphy. I was given contact information and was told that Tim Murphy's office-staff was well aware of the situation.
The interview and filming went very well, probably because I had spoken with Eric so many times in the past month that everything seemed quite natural. Mike took some movies and stills, but was so engrossed in the interview, that he forgot to film the bulk of it.
After the filming, we all had lunch in our kitchen. And after their 3 hour stay, a walk outside and a few hugs, the Fox Team left to catch their flight.
Eric continued to keep in touch. He asked me if he and Meredith could fly to Pittsburgh and meet Lee. That would be fine, I thought, as long as Lee's staff and apartment residents did not know the details, as they might be adverse to Fox TV and then give Lee a hard time. As stated earlier in this website, the residents in Lee's building were not too happy that a Mentally Retarded person lived there. And, to be quite honest, there have been times where Lee has approached some residents in an effort to be social, when they did not wish to be approached.
It was decided that to avoid any suspicions, Eric and Meredith would bring Lee a gift (some DVDs that Lee would like to watch) and say that they were family friends. They were to meet Lee at noon in his Lobby on February 17, 2011 and stay for an hour or so. This meeting would not be a Q and A session about Lee's Voter Fraud experience. Rather, they simply wanted to meet him.
Eric called me after meeting with Lee and said that I should be proud of my brother and that he could tell how well Lee was brought up.
While Eric was filming others who had experienced Voter Fraud, I was starting to get very nervous about the reaction of Lees Agency, Staff and building residents who might see Lee on TV and if they didn't share the same political views, might make his life a nightmare. If I were physically there to protect him instead of being 700 miles away wearing a terry-towel and not always being able to count on my brain being functional, this would have been no problem. I normally do very well with confrontation. But, leaving Lee alone to fight for himself??? Not such a great idea.
So, when Eric called sometime later and said that he would likely start with a story of Voter Fraud that happened in the Mid West where an actual legal action had been filed, I told him that I wasn't sure that I wanted Lee on TV at all, for the reasons mentioned above. We agreed on my decision for the time being, and I breathed a sigh of relief. At least I knew that I had started the ball rolling.
The last thing I needed in my toxic condition was to pile on more anxiety.
However, the experience of working with Fox News closely for a few months to bring this story out in the open and having them come to my home to film "little, old me" was an exciting time that I will never forget.
I encourage you to speak up and contact the National and Local Media, as well as your elected officials, if you or your Mentally Challenged loved-one experiences exploitation in any way, shape or form.
Their voices might not be able to be heard, but ours can.
I am happy to speak to any Group, Organization or Agency who would like to hear of my experience first hand or who would like to brainstorm on what CAN be done to avoid political (or any) exploitation.
Please contact us.