Wreck­ing the vote

Democrats work to di­lute the strength of le­git­i­mate bal­lots

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Some things are sim­ple and ex­act, like a chem­i­cal formula or the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion ta­bles. Equally sim­ple by logic: Ev­ery­one who votes should be el­i­gi­ble to vote, and be­fore re­ceiv­ing a bal­lot should be able to prove it. Vot­ing-rights ac­tivists find dark mo­tives in the ele­men­tary de­sire for clean elec­tions, and are ea­ger to cry voter sup­pres­sion. With the ap­proach of cru­cial midterms, Amer­i­cans have ev­ery right to make sure their votes still mat­ter when re­laxed rules make el­i­gi­bil­ity ir­rel­e­vant.

New Hamp­shire vot­ers be­came the tar­get of le­gal lu­nacy last week when a state judge is­sued a tem­po­rary in­junc­tion against en­force­ment of a new law re­quir­ing a per­son reg­is­ter­ing to vote within 30 days of an elec­tion to show proof of res­i­dency. Oth­er­wise the rule would lengthen lines at polling sites and dis­cour­age stu­dents and the disabled from sign­ing up. It didn’t seem to mat­ter that prospec­tive vot­ers who showed up to vote with­out the proper doc­u­men­ta­tion would still have 10 days to mail it in.

“Where the law threat­ens to dis­en­fran­chise an in­di­vid­ual’s right to vote, the only vi­able rem­edy is to en­join its en­force­ment,” wrote Pre­sid­ing Su­pe­rior Jus­tice Ken­neth C. Brown. Who knew the mi­nor in­con­ve­nience of hand­ing over a util­ity bill con­tain­ing a home ad­dress would flum­mox the de­scen­dants of New Hamp­shire pa­tri­ots who vowed to “Live free or die”?

Show­ing iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with a pho­to­graph on it is a re­quire­ment for a lot of things Amer­i­cans per­form rou­tinely with­out a sec­ond thought, let alone with a cry of de­spair. Among them, pick­ing up a pre­scrip­tion, buy­ing a bot­tle of beer, get­ting aboard an air­liner, open­ing a check­ing ac­count, ap­ply­ing for a job, pur­chas­ing a fish­ing li­cense, buy­ing a car, rent­ing a house or do­nat­ing blood. There’s no short­age of bu­reau­cratic man­dates that be­devil mod­ern life — pay­ing taxes, sit­ting in grid­locked traf­fic, wait­ing for the ca­ble guy to show up — but show­ing an ID card is surely not one of them.

Some politi­cians, pri­mar­ily Democrats, go be­yond the flimsy ar­gu­ment that sim­ple rules call­ing for proof of res­i­dency are, in fact, proof of voter sup­pres­sion. The state of Ge­or­gia re­quires an ex­act name match be­tween a voter’s ID and a voter reg­is­tra­tion form. “The blue wave is African-Amer­i­can,” says Stacey Abrams, the Demo­cratic can­di­date for gov­er­nor. “It’s white, it’s Latino, it’s Asian-Pa­cific Is­lan­der. It is disabled. It is dif­fer­ently abled. It is LGBTQ. It is law en­force­ment. It is vet­er­ans. It is made up of those who’ve been told that they are not wor­thy of be­ing here. It is com­prised of those who are doc­u­mented and un­doc­u­mented.” More than a motto, that’s a bold Demo­cratic dec­la­ra­tion of a new un­der­stand­ing of Amer­i­can as­pi­ra­tion.

Oth­ers do not stop at pro­claim­ing their sup­port of non-cit­i­zens cast­ing bal­lots. San Fran­cisco’s Depart­ment of Elec­tions took the un­usual step in July of al­low­ing il­le­gal res­i­dents to par­tic­i­pate in lo­cal school board elec­tions. A lo­cal poll found their con­stituents alarmed, with 71 per­cent of re­spon­dents op­posed and only 21 per­cent fa­vor it. Crit­ics of the change in­cluded 91 per­cent of Repub­li­cans, 54 per­cent of Democrats and 70 per­cent of in­de­pen­dents.

Cal­i­for­ni­ans worry about the pos­si­bil­ity of nonci­t­i­zens vot­ing. A state law that took ef­fect in April au­to­mat­i­cally regis­ters driver’s li­cense ap­pli­cants as vot­ers, whether cit­i­zens qual­i­fied to cast a bal­lot or il­le­gals who are not.

Cit­i­zens of for­eign na­tions are cast­ing U.S. bal­lots in in­creas­ing num­bers. Con­necti­cut, Delaware and New Mex­ico now al­low nonres­i­dent vot­ing in city and mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions. Cur­rently, Cal­i­for­nia is joined by nine other states in wel­com­ing for­eign­ers to vote in cer­tain spe­cial elec­tions, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures. New ar­rivals tend to vote Demo­cratic, which is hardly co­in­ci­dence. The U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives adopted a non­bind­ing res­o­lu­tion in Septem­ber con­demn­ing ef­forts to en­able il­le­gal im­mi­grants to vote in U.S. elec­tions. A 2016 study from Old Do­min­ion Univer­sity found that 6.4 per­cent of the 42 mil­lion for­eign­ers in the U.S. voted in 2008, so it’s not un­rea­son­able to sur­mise that the num­ber of il­le­git­i­mate votes could reach into the mil­lions.

The priv­i­lege of choos­ing the na­tion’s lead­ers is a fun­da­men­tal right that must be re­served for cit­i­zens of the United States. If the vote is di­luted by those de­ter­mined to boost their bal­lot to­tals at any cost, Amer­i­cans will have lost the abil­ity to de­ter­mine their fu­ture. It’s an end not re­motely jus­ti­fied by the means.

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