Two loud cheers for clean elec­tions

The courts dis­miss chal­lenges to an at­tempt to purge rolls of il­le­gal vot­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

You might think ev­ery good cit­i­zen would cheer at­tempts to pro­tect the sanc­tity of the vote. Many good men and women have died for the right to vote, and we all owe it to them to pro­tect what their sac­ri­fice achieved for all.

The good news is that two U.S. District Court judges in Wash­ing­ton have struck mighty bi­par­ti­san blows in be­half of the bal­lot. Judge Royce C. Lam­berth, ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Rea­gan, last week re­buffed an at­tempt by Com­mon Cause, the good-gov­ern­ment ad­vo­cacy group, to stran­gle the new Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion In­tegrity. Judge Colleen Kol­lar-Kotelly a few days ear­lier had turned away an at­tempt by the Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter to ob­struct the ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion’s re­quest to the 50 states and the District of Columbia to sup­ply data of its rolls of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers.

The ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion wants to cross-check the reg­is­tra­tion data kept by the states to de­ter­mine how many vot­ers are reg­is­tered in more than one ju­ris­dic­tion and whether they have voted more than once in the same elec­tion. The ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion in­tends to run the names through gov­ern­ment data­bases to iden­tify the dead and non-cit­i­zen vot­ers. The dead are usu­ally not el­i­gi­ble to vote, though in Chicago and cer­tain other places ex­cep­tions are made.

Com­mon Cause had ar­gued that the panel’s re­quest for in­for­ma­tion about those en­gag­ing in pro­tected First Amend­ment ac­tiv­i­ties vi­o­lates the U.S. Pri­vacy Act. There’s a cer­tain irony that this in­for­ma­tion about vot­ers — names, ad­dresses, dates of birth, party reg­is­tra­tion, vot­ing his­tory and other things — is in­for­ma­tion that most states are ea­ger to sell to po­lit­i­cal par­ties and their can­di­dates.

The Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter sought to block the com­mis­sion’s data re­quest be­cause it ar­gued that the sur­vey­ors hadn’t con­ducted a pri­vacy-im­pact re­view for gov­ern­ment elec­tronic data-col­lec­tion sys­tems, as re­quired un­der a 2002 fed­eral law. Judge Kol­lar-Kotelly, who was ap­pointed to the bench by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton, ruled that the White House ad­vi­sory panel was ex­empt from fed­eral pri­vacy rules. “The mere in­creased risk of disclosure stem­ming from the col­lec­tion and even­tual . . . disclosure of al­ready publicly avail­able voter-roll in­for­ma­tion is in­suf­fi­cient” to en­join the pres­i­den­tial panel’s data re­quest.

“[N]ei­ther the Com­mis­sion nor the Di­rec­tor of White House In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy — [which are] cur­rently charged with col­lect­ing voter-roll in­for­ma­tion on be­half of the Com­mis­sion — are ‘agen­cies’ for the pur­poses of the [Ad­min­is­tra­tive Pro­ce­dure Act],” she wrote.

The rul­ing was hailed as a vic­tory for gov­ern­ment ac­count­abil­ity, trans­parency and the pub­lic’s right to know by the ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion. Kansas Sec­re­tary of State Kris Kobach, vice chair­man of the ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion, says it looks for­ward to “con­tin­u­ing to work with state elec­tion lead­ers to gather in­for­ma­tion and iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove elec­tion in­tegrity.”

Many Democrats and other lib­er­als in­sist that voter fraud is a phan­tom men­ace, that the com­mis­sion’s true aim is to sup­press vot­ing, es­pe­cially among mi­nori­ties, sin­gle women and young peo­ple, groups that vote heav­ily Demo­cratic. “We hear this non­sen­si­cal myth of voter fraud,” says Michael Blake, vice chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee Vice Chair­man. “It is not hap­pen­ing.”

Alas, it is hap­pen­ing, and even one stolen vote is one too many. A few hun­dred il­le­gal votes here, a thou­sand there, and elec­tions are stolen. Some­times the cheated can­di­date is a Demo­crat, some­times a Repub­li­can. If there’s no voter fraud any­where, Democrats have noth­ing to fear from the 12-mem­ber com­mis­sion, whose role is purely ad­vi­sory. Five Democrats sit on the panel, in­clud­ing two sec­re­taries of state.

“Ev­ery time voter fraud oc­curs, it can­cels out the vote of a law­ful cit­i­zen and un­der­mines democ­racy,” Pres­i­dent Trump said on the cre­ation of the panel. Who among the fright­ened Democrats would ar­gue with that, even it was Don­ald Trump who said it?

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