In my previous column I referred to an organization called True the Vote. Its president, Catherine Engelbrecht, recently testified at a congressional hearing looking into allegations that the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately targeted groups based on their political views. True the Vote, one of the organizations allegedly targeted by the IRS, was founded by Engelbrecht in response to what she witnessed as a volunteer monitoring local elections.
According to thr group’s website, “Unfortunately, Americans have lost faith in the integrity of our nation’s election results and fraud and law-breaking has become all too common in our electoral system. We hope to change that perception. True the Vote is a citizen-led effort to restore truth, faith, and integrity to our elections.”
A Rasmussen poll conducted last August appears to bear this out, revealing that only 39 percent of Americans believe that elections are fair. According to the Rasmussen website, “Belief that U.S. elections are fair continues to fall and has now reached its lowest level in nine years of surveys.”
If we believe in principles that make it possible to live in a free society, this does not portend well. In response, some states have enacted Voter ID legislation. In the same month that the Rasmussen poll was published, the governor of North Carolina signed into law a bill requiring voters to present a North Carolina driver’s license, a state-issued ID card, a military ID, or a U.S. passport in order to receive a ballot. The following month, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was filing suit against North Carolina alleging that the new law discriminates against minorities and is in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Three months earlier, in June, the Supreme Court had struck down portions of that Act.
According to Rasmussen, 71 percent of all Americans favor requiring voter ID at the polls and 78 percent favor requiring proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Most of those polled, 59 percent, believe that voter ID laws do not discriminate and only 25 percent oppose voter ID laws. Two out of three voters believe that voter fraud is a serious problem. Nearly three quarters of Republicans polled believe it, half of all Independents believe it while only 17 percent of Democrats believe that voter fraud is a problem. Go figure.
Last November, The Washington Post published an article entitled “Here’s How We Clean Up Messy Voter Rolls.” The author Reid Wilson writes, “When Virginia’s Board of Elections said it would remove tens of thousands of names from its voter rolls this year, voting-rights advocates cried foul, and went to court.” While acknowledging that there is a problem, Reid doesn’t offer fraud as a possible contributing factor. He describes the problem thusly: “People move. People die. People get married and re-register under new names. Election administrators across the country face the tightrope of making sure their voter rolls are accurate while avoiding erasing a valid record.”
Sounds innocent enough and Reid goes on to describe a possible solution: the Electronic Registration Information Center, a database developed by the Pew Charitable Trusts in partnership with IBM. Seven states have signed on. I wonder why he chose that program as the solution when he goes on to mention the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, run by the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, which is the one that Virginia actually used to scrub its voter rolls. There are 28 states signed on to that one.
North Carolina, the state being sued by the DOJ is one of them. According to a story filed last week by a local TV station in Raleigh-Durham, the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program revealed that nearly 36,000 people that cast votes in North Carolina in 2012 also cast votes in at least one other state! Wowser.
In other states the figures are even worse. In Illinois there were more than 211,000 or 2.8 percent of all registered voters. In Michigan it was 2.2 percent and Colorado it was a whopping 5.5 percent. In all cases the results were more than enough to swing a close election. New York and California don’t participate in the Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. One shudders to think what the numbers in those states might reveal.
There are those that assert that Voter ID legislation amounts to “voter suppression.” To my mind, anyone that would make that argument has an ethical and moral problem. “Suppression” of voter fraud is a moral imperative. Now that we have actual numbers, they are compelling and demonstrate that voter fraud may be poisoning the electoral process. A free society cannot remain so if elections are tainted by questionable results. Government can only be legitimate if the elections they hold are fair and beyond reproach. This is a truth that I believe is self-evident. I would humbly suggest that you ask anyone running for office this year their position on this issue.
So, the U.S. Department of Justice is suing North Carolina for doing the right thing. North Carolina is acting responsibly by requiring that voters identify themselves and prove that they are eligible to vote before receiving a ballot. This is a sacred duty. Meanwhile, down at the DOJ in Washington, D.C., if you want to enter the building you have to provide a valid ID at the security desk. If you don’t provide a valid ID you cannot enter. You really can’t make this stuff up.
— Elliot Simon writes from