Cole Ellenbogen

Committing Voter Fraud is Actually Super Easy

I was at a polling place to vote in a local election recently; I was sure to bring all the ID I would need to prove who I was to avoid any confusion. When I was next in line, I stepped up to the table, atop which sat a thick three-ring binder with a long list of local residents. Even though I was looking at the list upside down, the names were all in large print, with a check mark and a signature next to them if that person had already voted.

Voting stations at a common polling place

Voting stations at a common polling place

The poll attendant smiled at me.

“What’s your name?” She asked.

“Cole Ellenbogen,” I replied.

The woman thumbed through a few pages of the booklet, muttering “E, e,” as her index finger quickly passed over each name on the page. “Ah, there you are. Just sign here.”

I looked at her, startled: “That’s all? You don’t need to see my license, or-”

“No,” she shook her head, smiling again, “no need.” She turned the binder around on the table, and tapped my name with a ballpoint pen, which she then handed to me. I scribbled my signature, voted, and left.

My mind was absolutely blown. I voted in an election and showed less ID than I have to when I buy a lottery ticket. All you have to do to commit voter fraud is be able to read upside down, and pick a name off the list without a signature.

We need photo IDs to vote. The Federal Election Commission recommended it years ago, but the push to require identification is shot down time and time again by opponents who claim that requiring photo IDs is an attempt to stop minorities from voting. Is it really racist to require an ID?

Let’s take a look at the list of other things that you need an ID for that aren’t racist:

Board a plane, buy alcohol, buy cigarettes, enter a casino, play the lottery, open a bank account, apply for and receive welfare, apply for and receive food stamps, file for and receive unemployment, buy an M-rated video game, see an R-rated movie, buy a cellphone, sign for a cell phone contract, donate blood, buy certain types of cold medicine, pick up a prescription, buy a gun, apply for a hunting license, apply for a fishing license, to drive or buy or rent a car, get married, check into a hotel, adopt a pet, apply for a job, or get a permit to gather and hold a protest.

What’s different about having an ID for voting?

I’ll leave you with that. Now in the words of Nelson Mandela:

Nelson Mandela sporting his "Get an ID. Register. Vote." Shirt

Nelson Mandela sporting his “Get an ID. Register. Vote.” Shirt

-By Cole Ellenbogen

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Turn off your Damn Phone

This December, my grandfather passed away, and my whole family gathered for his funeral. Having served in the National Guard, he was buried in a  military cemetery. At the beginning of the ceremony, an honor guard reminded us all – the immediate family – to please silence our cellphones, and avoid using all electronics during the burial. Seriously.

You would think that paying respects to a departed loved one certainly takes precedence over checking Facebook, unless you’re one of the awful people that takes funeral selfies, but the fact that they felt compelled to remind us really makes you wonder, doesn’t it: how many people must have texted and tweeted through the eulogy before it became necessary to remind people to be respectful?

And it’s not just funerals – it would be a little weird if it was – it’s everywhere. If you look around in any restaurant you can see families and friends at the same table, ignoring one another and typing away on smartphones. Not to sound antiquated, but I prefer actual social interaction to meaningless “hey, sup”s and “lol”s. I’m not saying we need to return to the dark ages, but it wouldn’t kill you to put the damn thing down once in a while – especially if you’re quite literally tweeting over someone’s grave – the internet will still be there when you get back, I promise.

End rant.

Okay, now end rant for real.

By Cole Ellenbogen

What Needs to be Done in 2015?

Last year was eventful on the political stage to say the least, but moving into 2015, what issue takes precedent?

…and what issues do you think we need to let go of as a nation? 2014 also saw its fair share of scandals. What should be left in the past, and what still needs work?

Moving away from politicians, what role do you think media played in the issues of 2014?

Thank you for letting us know what you think! Check back in a few days for the results!

By Cole Ellenbogen

You’re So Vain You Probably Think This Post Is About You

A friend sent me a comment that someone else posted about my open letter to the chancellor, earlier today. This commenter insinuated that I am a bigot that wants to stamp out ethnic diversity at Syracuse because I disagree with THE General Body.

Interestingly enough, they also claimed they tried to reach me for comment on Facebook but couldn’t find me because I’m, “conveniently enough, not searchable.”

The elusive and deceptive Cole Ellenbogen, trying to hide from public scrutiny by concealing his identity on the internet.

The elusive and deceptive Cole Ellenbogen, trying to hide from public scrutiny by concealing his identity on the internet.

Did you try Google? I’m really not that difficult to find: the entire first page of search results for Cole Ellenbogen is entirely comprised of things I’ve written, or things written about me, as well as twitter, g-mail, and pictures. I’m sure you could’ve figured out a way to get in touch with me with all that.

Commenter, either you’re just bad at the Internet, or didn’t look at all.

I digress.

This person’s accused me of lacking factual evidence and being somehow motivated by racism, which is odd because most of my arguments were about finances.

But I’m not petty, and I can take a little heckling. The reason I bring all this up is because this person brought something up that could cause confusion amongst students.

The commenter suggested that the university has 1.08 billion dollars from a fundraiser that the Chancellor is trying to keep under wraps, which is now just laying around collecting dust.

Syracuse University's alleged cash-stash, probably hidden in the Chancellor's office. Photo Credit: Business Insider

Syracuse University’s alleged cash-stash, probably hidden in the Chancellor’s office.
Photo Credit: Business Insider

To those who are under the impression that the university does have this lump sum just sitting around, completely understand if you’re frustrated with the administration. But, I would like to take the opportunity to dispel some of the mystery surrounding this donation that you may or may not have heard about.

Over the course of a few years, the university did raise over 1.08 billion dollars. Here’s the breakdown.

  1. This money did not come from an annual fundraiser. This was an ongoing affair, and it took seven years to accomplish. The effort began in 2005 and ended in 2012.
  2. To reiterate, this effort has been over for two years. Since then we’ve remodeled Newhouse II, built Newhouse III, built an entirely new law school, and finished the life sciences complex – and that’s just naming a few off the top of my head.
  3. The commenter also claimed the funds were never allocated and kept a secret, but the allocation of the funds was disclosed two years ago, before the fundraising was completed.

a. 177 million dollars went directly to adding scholarships “for students of merit who demonstrate financial need.”

b. At the time of the fundraiser’s completion, 28 million – roughly 2 percent of the total donation was not allocated.

c. If you still have a problem with lack of transparency about where the money goes, you’re complaining about the wrong chancellor: Nancy Cantor was the one that handled the disclosure of the donations, not Kent Syverud.

  1. Again, this was a long-term effort. Syracuse does not receive annual donations of over one billion dollars every year.

All of those stats can be found here, and again, this was two years ago. The money has been allocated and most likely spent. A good chunk was actually spent on some of the same things THE General Body was complaining about: expansion of scholarships for students who would be otherwise unable to afford a college education, and attracting top professors who could help diversify the campus.

As of last year Syracuse University was 400 million dollars in debt, larger than average for a university its size. I’m a firm believer in the fact that money doesn’t appear out of thin air, and the mindset that one can just willfully throw money around because that they can always borrow more is both damaging and unsustainable.

To wrap up: we’re in debt; we don’t actually have 1.08 billion dollars to fix all of our problems. Most of our budget comes from student tuition, so the assumption that student tuition will rise if we continue renovating buildings, adding programs, and reversing budget cuts is not only realistic, but also fairly logical.

And if you still think my arguments are “shallow banter,” as this heckler suggested, I would implore the rest of the readers to take caution in taking advice from anyone who uses the phrase, “but like, also no,” in a serious written piece, or one who digresses from their point to talk about their horoscope. You know who you are.

By Cole Ellenbogen