It oughta be a crime

Voter fraud un­der­mines fair and hon­est elec­tions

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Robert Knight Robert Knight is a se­nior fel­low for the Amer­i­can Civil Rights Union.

Joseph Stalin is cred­ited with ob­serv­ing that, “It’s not the peo­ple who vote that count, it’s the peo­ple who count the votes.” Over the last two decades the left has been chang­ing both the rules of our elec­tion process and Amer­ica’s de­mo­graph­ics to suit their po­lit­i­cal agenda.

A per­fect ex­am­ple is Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s brazen at­tempt to get more than 200,000 con­victed felons onto the state’s voter rolls in time for the last elec­tion. Un­daunted af­ter his slap­down by the state supreme court, the gov­er­nor re­cently ve­toed six com­mon-sense elec­tion in­tegrity bills sent to his desk.

One of the bills man­dated that poll books in­clude DMV photos. That seems like a no-brainer, since it sim­pli­fies iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of reg­is­tered vot­ers. But the gov­er­nor in­sisted that it might cause “voter con­fu­sion.”

The sec­ond and third (com­pan­ion) mea­sures ex­tended ex­ist­ing law re­quir­ing a photo ID when ac­quir­ing ab­sen­tee bal­lots. Sev­eral states have al­ready done so. Virginia’s gov­er­nor claimed that this would dis­en­fran­chise peo­ple. Re­ally? What about dis­en­fran­chis­ing cit­i­zens whose bal­lots are can­celed by fraud­u­lent votes?

The fourth bill would have barred pay­ing peo­ple to regis­ter to vote. That should be an­other easy call. But Gov. McAuliffe as­serted that no one was do­ing it any­way. That’s not the case, but why not make the prac­tice even less likely by ban­ning it?

The fifth bill would have reg­is­trars match their in­for­ma­tion against So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion and se­lect state data­bases. What’s wrong with mak­ing sure that reg­is­tra­tion in­for­ma­tion is ac­cu­rate?

The sixth bill pro­vided for municipalities to ini­ti­ate an in­ves­ti­ga­tion if they find that more peo­ple are reg­is­tered to vote than the num­ber of el­i­gi­ble res­i­dents. Alas, the gov­er­nor con­cluded that re­view­ing po­ten­tially crim­i­nal be­hav­ior “could im­prop­erly dis­en­fran­chise” vot­ers. How does en­sur­ing that the votes are le­gal hurt le­git­i­mate vot­ers?

Fi­nally, a sev­enth piece of leg­is­la­tion would have the Depart­ment of Elec­tions en­able reg­is­trars to check other states’ rolls to iden­tify those reg­is­tered else­where. The gov­er­nor found a way to kill this bill too, claim­ing it would re­sult in “im­proper dis­en­fran­chise­ment.” Yet an in­ter­state cross­check ini­tia­tive found 284,618 Vir­gini­ans reg­is­tered to vote in at least one other state.

Some crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties are nearly im­pos­si­ble to “catch in the act” — lit­ter­ing and vote fraud are good ex­am­ples. We know that lit­ter­ers abound be­cause we see the ev­i­dence. But how of­ten is some­one caught drop­ping that Dixie cup? And, so it is with vote fraud, most of which is com­mit­ted qui­etly through ab­sen­tee and mail-in bal­lots.

Lack of in­ter­est by fed­eral law en­forcers was by de­sign dur­ing the Obama years, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Jus­tice Depart­ment vot­ing sec­tion at­tor­ney J. Chris­tian Adams. Obama of­fi­cials zeal­ously en­forced the Mo­tor Voter Law’s pro­vi­sions to make it easy to regis­ter, but ig­nored Sec­tion 8, which re­quires main­te­nance of ac­cu­rate voter rolls.

“In 2009, po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees in­structed Jus­tice Depart­ment lawyers like me that they were shut­ting down en­force­ment of Mo­tor Voter’s pro­vi­sions that en­sure only el­i­gi­ble vot­ers were on the rolls,” Mr. Adams wrote re­cently in The Hill. “No en­force­ment ef­forts were filed in eight years.”

Gov. McAuliffe’s ve­toes demon­strate that the left has aban­doned sub­tlety. They want noth­ing to in­ter­fere with op­por­tu­ni­ties to com­mit vote fraud, es­pe­cially for the crim­i­nal class.

In Philadel­phia, an Amer­i­can Civil Rights Union law­suit in 2016 forced elec­tion of­fi­cials to open reg­is­tra­tion records, re­veal­ing not only that thou­sands of felons and non-cit­i­zens were on the rolls but that elec­tion of­fi­cials re­fused to do any­thing about it.

It’s il­le­galin Penn­syl­va­nia for felons to vote, but the felons re­main on the rolls and were in­cluded in poll books used on Elec­tion Day. There is no voter ID re­quired in the Key­stone state so noth­ing pre­vents in­car­cer­ated felons from get­ting ab­sen­tee bal­lots or ar­rang­ing for some­one to vote in their name.

On April 28, the Third Cir­cuit U.S. Court of Ap­peals will hear Amer­i­can Civil Rights Union v. Philadel­phia City Com­mis­sion­ers to de­cide whether in­el­i­gi­ble felons can re­main on the books. The ACRU will ar­gue that the Na­tional Voter Reg­is­tra­tion Act re­quires that only el­i­gi­ble vot­ers should ap­pear on the of­fi­cial voter lists.

Once com­mit­ted, vote fraud can­not be un­done. The only sen­si­ble ap­proach is to take mea­sures to pre­vent it in the first place.

Vice Pres­i­dent Pence’s com­mis­sion on vot­ing in­tegrity will have the op­por­tu­nity to en­sure that our elec­toral sys­tem safe­guards the right of U.S. cit­i­zens to have fair and hon­est elec­tions.


Virginia Gov­er­nor Terry McAuliffe

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