Keep­ing elec­tions hon­est

What is ‘rea­son­able’ when pre­vent­ing vote fraud?

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

While Bill Clin­ton may still be pon­der­ing the mean­ing of the word “is,” a fed­eral court in Mi­ami is try­ing to de­fine what the word “rea­son­able” means.

The rul­ing in this his­toric case could well de­ter­mine how se­cure elec­tions are all over the United States for years to come.

At is­sue in the Amer­i­can Civil Rights Union’s law­suit against Broward County, Florida, whose week­long trial ended last Wed­nes­day, is what con­sti­tutes “rea­son­able” mea­sures that must be taken to en­sure ac­cu­rate and up-to-date voter lists.

Clean voter rolls make for hon­est elec­tions. Any name on a voter reg­is­tra­tion list can be voted — ei­ther legally by the in­di­vid­ual or il­le­gally by some­one else. Voter rolls are gen­er­ally free to any­one who wants them, so with a bit of re­search­ing pub­lic doc­u­ments, they pro­vide a vir­tual roadmap to vote fraud­sters.

When the Na­tional Voter Reg­is­tra­tion Act (NVRA), bet­ter known as Mo­tor Voter, was en­acted in 1993, it had two ma­jor parts. The first, pushed by Democrats, al­lowed for easy reg­is­tra­tion at var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies, such as the DMV and wel­fare of­fices. The sec­ond part, pro­moted by Repub­li­cans, re­quired states and lo­cal­i­ties to use “rea­son­able” meth­ods to en­sure that only qual­i­fied vot­ers are reg­is­tered.

But in the past 24 years, no court has ever ruled on what is “rea­son­able,” and re­cent stud­ies show that many ju­ris­dic­tions are ig­nor­ing the re­quire­ment.

Be­gin­ning in 2013, the ACRU has been the only pri­vate party to suc­cess­fully sue coun­ties un­der the NVRA’s Sec­tion 8 and se­cure con­sent agree­ments re­quir­ing elec­tion of­fi­cials to clean up voter rolls.

The ACRU sued Broward be­cause the county not only has 103 per­cent of its vot­ing age-el­i­gi­ble pop­u­la­tion reg­is­tered, but be­cause county of­fi­cials were not fol­low­ing na­tion­ally uti­lized best prac­tices to cor­rect the mat­ter.

As re­vealed in tes­ti­mony, Broward of­fi­cials, aided by a dozen lawyers from Ge­orge Soros-funded left­ist groups such as the SEIU, Demos, and the for­mer Project Vote, con­tinue to in­sist that it’s “rea­son­able” to do min­i­mal main­te­nance and ig­nore a tool­box of op­tions of­fered by the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment to keep voter rolls clean.

This all came out over the past week at the trial, in which the ACRU’s ex­pert wit­nesses — for­mer Colorado Sec­re­tary of State Scott Gessler and Cen­ter for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies Di­rec­tor of Re­search Steven Ca­marota — re­vealed shock­ing ev­i­dence of ei­ther ap­par­ent of­fi­cial malfea­sance or in­com­pe­tence.

The legal team was led by J. Chris­tian Adams, for­mer Depart­ment of Jus­tice Vot­ing Sec­tion at­tor­ney and pres­i­dent of the Pub­lic In­ter­est Legal Foun­da­tion (PILF).

In his clos­ing ar­gu­ment, Mr. Adams stated that Broward’s voter rolls con­tained:

• More than 3,000 reg­is­tered vot­ers at least 100 years old in­clud­ing 48 who were older than the old­est liv­ing Amer­i­can (who is 113 years old) and a few who topped 130 years old

• 1,200 vot­ers whose reg­is­tra­tions were ac­cepted even though they used in­valid com­mer­cial ad­dresses (such as UPS Stores) as their res­i­dences con­trary to Florida law

• 23 per­cent of vot­ers who died in 2011 but were still on the rolls in May 2012.

“It isn’t rea­son­able to do the bare min­i­mum in Broward County,” Mr. Adams told the court. “The bare min­i­mum isn’t rea­son­able when se­vere prob­lems ex­ist.”

An­other telling mo­ment oc­curred when Broward elec­tions su­per­vi­sor Brenda Snipes, the chief de­fen­dant, ad­mit­ted that she had or­dered some changes to ferret out bad reg­is­tra­tions only after the ACRU had filed its law­suit.

The county’s at­tor­ney in­sisted that this was not “an ad­mis­sion of guilt,” but it cer­tainly lent cre­dence to the ACRU’s charge that Ms. Snipes was not do­ing enough to en­sure ac­cu­rate voter rolls prior to the com­plaint.

Broward of­fi­cials were also lam­basted by U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom, an Obama ap­pointee, for re­ject­ing re­quests from the ACRU legal team to see a county man­ual on how to man­age voter rolls. The man­ual, which the of­fi­cials de­nied ex­isted, sud­denly turned up dur­ing the trial. Oops.

Sev­eral Broward res­i­dents tes­ti­fied that they had done their own re­search us­ing pub­li­cally avail­able records such as So­cial Se­cu­rity death in­dex files and obit­u­ar­ies, and in­formed elec­tion of­fi­cials of names of the de­ceased who should be re­moved.

But the elec­tions of­fi­cials told them that they could not do any­thing with­out a for­mal death cer­tifi­cate, which might or might not be forth­com­ing.

Other in­trigu­ing find­ings emerged from a study of data re­leased by the Florida sec­re­tary of state in May 2016.

A to­tal of 862 reg­is­tered vot­ers were 105 years old or older, with 48 per­cent of­fi­cially listed as “ac­tive vot­ers.”

Al­though the state al­lows 17-year-olds to pre-reg­is­ter if they will turn 18 by Elec­tion Day, an eight-yearold mi­nor was on the rolls in Broward who would clearly be in­el­i­gi­ble for the 2016 elec­tion.

Thou­sands of cases of “du­pli­cate reg­is­tra­tions” were un­cov­ered, with peo­ple hav­ing the same birth­date and home ad­dress reg­is­tered twice, for in­stance, by us­ing a mid­dle ini­tial in one but not the other.

Judge Bloom gave the par­ties un­til Sept. 15 to sub­mit pro­posed find­ings of fact and con­clu­sions of law that she will use to make her rul­ing.

Re­gard­less of the out­come, given the sweep­ing na­tional im­pli­ca­tions for keep­ing elec­tions hon­est next year, the rul­ing will be ap­pealed to the 11th Cir­cuit, and per­haps all the way to the Supreme Court.

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