Interview with Claudia Schecter, August 17, 1992

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Becoming involved in the Mingo County Fair Elections Committee

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Partial Transcript: Um, how did you get to Mingo County in the first place?

Segment Synopsis: Claudia Schecter talks about why she moved to Mingo County. She talks about the political corruption present in the area and how the Fair Elections Committee was formed. She talks about their efforts to purge voter rolls of fraudulent voters.

Keywords: Bill Schecter; Challenging voter rolls; Economic Opportunity Council (EOC); Fair Elections Committees; Local people; Media; Newspapers; Political machines; Press; School improvement; Supporting roles; VISTA

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; Mingo County (W. Va.); Political corruption; Volunteers in Service to America; Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:07:45 - The arrest of several Fair Elections Committee members / corruption of the voting process

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Partial Transcript: And that's, I think that that's approximately the time when Alma Justice and Judy Trent and Hayes Hatfield were arrested.

Segment Synopsis: Schecter talks about why several members of the Fair Elections Committee were arrested. She talks about Cleo Jones' involvement in the movement. She talks more about the corruption occurring in Mingo County and how the out-migration of many of the young people in the area contributed to voter fraud. She talks about whether people were afraid to become involved in the Fair Elections Committee.

Keywords: Arrests; Bravery; Challenging voter rolls; Charges; Cleo Jones; Fair Elections Committees; Fears; Impact; Jail; League of Women Voters; Out-migration; Political machines; Spreading the word; Vote buyers; Young people

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; Mingo County (W. Va.); Political corruption; Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:15:43 - Fair Elections Committee's trip to Washington D.C. / impact of the Fair Elections Committee

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Partial Transcript: In the, in the articles it, it says that shortly after the arrests a, a delegation, it sounds like maybe a whole busload of people, went to Washington, DC.

Segment Synopsis: Schecter talks about the trip the Fair Elections Committee made to Washington D.C. to talk to the justice department about the political corruption in Mingo County. She talks about their experiences meeting Senator Randolph and Senator Bird. She discusses whether the work done by the Fair Elections Committee has affected Mingo County.

Keywords: Affidavits; Community Action Programs; Community issues; Economic Opportunity Council (EOC); Fair Elections Committees; Green Amendment; Impact; Justice department; Opportunities; Political issues; Racism; Senator Jennings Randolph; Senator Robert Byrd

Subjects: Race discrimination; Washington (D.C.)

00:21:49 - Mingo County county clerk's office / Federal Voting Rights Act

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Partial Transcript: What was the attitude of--was, was Tom Chaffin the county clerk?

Segment Synopsis: Schecter discusses how the county clerk's office interacted with the Fair Elections Committee. She talks about the impact of the Federal Voter Rights Act on the work the committee was doing. She tells a story about VISTA workers impersonating FBI agents during an election.

Keywords: County Clerk Tom Chafin; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Federal Voting Rights Act; Impersonating federal agents; Justice department; VISTA

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; McGraw, Warren; Political corruption; Volunteers in Service to America; Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:26:17 - Absentee voting as a tool for committing voter fraud

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Partial Transcript: I, I read some articles about, uh, what was the circuit clerk’s name?

Segment Synopsis: Schecter talks about absentee voting and how it was used to submit false votes during elections in Mingo County.

Keywords: Absentee voting; Control

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; Mingo County (W. Va.); Voter registration--Corrupt practices

00:30:15 - More about the impact of the Fair Elections Committee on local elections

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Partial Transcript: Well, did you--at the time did the--you as someone working with the Fair Elections Committee, did you think that your activities would affect the outcome of the sixty-eight election?

Segment Synopsis: Schecter talks about whether the Fair Elections Committee members thought their impact would be on local elections and whether they accomplished that goal.

Keywords: Candidates; Control; Fair Elections Committees; Impact; Ken Heckler; Noah Floyd; Political Action League; Power

Subjects: Elections--Corrupt practices; Mingo County (W. Va.)

00:34:33 - Power of the media

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Partial Transcript: So what, what would you say were some of the main things that you as an individual learned from this, this process?

Segment Synopsis: Schecter discusses what she learned from her experience with the Fair Elections Committee in Mingo County. She talks about the role of the press in their efforts, specifically a reporter named Mike Adams.

Keywords: Advocates; Community activists; Dedication; Learning; Legitimate; Media; Mike Adams; People; Power; Press; Reporters

Subjects: Community activism; Mingo County (W. Va.); Newspapers.; Washington (D.C.)

00:41:28 - People involved with the Fair Elections Committee

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember where Judy Trent lived?

Segment Synopsis: Schecter talks about various people involved in the fair elections movement in West Virginia. She talks about local people and whether low-income families were involved in the committee.

Keywords: Alma Jean Justice; Challenging voter rolls; Cooperation; Fair Elections Committees; Gilbert (W. Va.); Hayes Hatfield; Judy Trent; Local people; Low-income families; Radio stations; Support

Subjects: Community activism; Perry, Huey

00:48:39 - Her work after the Fair Elections Committee

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Partial Transcript: Have you ever worked in any other political efforts that gave you as much satisfaction as this one?

Segment Synopsis: Schecter discusses the various jobs she has had since her work on the Fair Elections Committee and her continued involvement in community organizations. She talks about her role in the Fair Elections Committee as well as the involvement of people from the middle class in the committee. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Fair Elections Committees; Learning; Middle class; Roles; Students; Work

Subjects: Political activism