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HARTWELL: Trashing the vote
Every fraudulent vote disenfranchises a citizen
Today is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Election Day. According to my desk calendar, it's also the Day of the Dead in Mexico. South of the border, this is a religious holiday. Tragically, with drug cartels butchering police and civilians alike, our neighbors have too many dead to remember.
North of the border, sadly, our electoral process is a "day of the dead" as well. Here, the dead may vote by the thousands Tuesday, and they are not the only illegal "voters" who will corrupt the election. Indeed, those who genuinely care about integrity at the polls are wishing it were only the dead who raise the issue. In fact, the departed are but the tip of a growing iceberg. Citizens of both parties who favor honesty in elections should be concerned.
A combination of factors contributes to this problem. For example, the National Voter Registration Act, the 1993 statute better known as the "Motor Voter" law, ostensibly was intended to promote registration and participation in federal elections and to assure the integrity of the electoral process by guaranteeing "accurate and clean" voter rolls. It hasn't worked out that way.
Fraudulent voter registrations have occurred by the millions because of inadequate procedures for confirming a registrant's citizenship and qualifications. Incredibly, a federal appeals court recently held that an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration should not be enforced. Estimates vary, but it's reported that about 16 million registered voters should be taken off the rolls for one reason or another.
Certainly, the dead figure significantly in this group. Press reports indicate that there were 181,000 of them on the voter rolls in six swing states in 2004, including 65,000 in Florida. Today, more than 116,000 dead are still registered to vote in Massachusetts, and tens of thousands more in Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Iowa, North Carolina and other states.
Even more alarming, many jurisdictions have substantially more registered voters than they have residents of voting age. Some of these are voters who have moved because the Motor Voter law as applied does not assure that registration to vote in one state cancels a previous registration in another. Intentionally or inadvertently, these folks are well-positioned to have some fraudster casting their "ballot" in their old precinct.
But many more contributing to this phenomenon are fraudulently registered voters ineligible for any number of reasons, including that they simply don't exist. Unfortunately for our country, registering voters fraudulently has become a major activity of "community organizers" and other activists, who have been funded generously by both partisan benefactors and our very own tax dollars. It is indicative of the level of fraud that, for example, the number of registered voters in Philadelphia is 125 percent of the voting-age population. That's participation.
Partisan groups also encourage government complicity in their aggressive strategies. The George Soros-funded Secretary of State Project is illustrative. This organization has given more than $100 million to groups working to elect Democrats to positions that oversee elections. One of its success stories, Jennifer Brunner of Ohio, ruled in favor of same-day registration and early voting (which facilitate fraud) in 2008 and even sought unsuccessfully to invalidate vast numbers of Republican absentee ballots.
Another indicator is the Obama administration's failure to enforce the federal law requiring that absentee ballots be mailed to active-duty military personnel at least 45 days before the election. Despite numerous requests, the Department of Justice has taken no effective action. So the 2008 pattern of disenfranchisement of our citizens serving abroad in the military is continuing this year.
Impeding military voting is hardly the only partisan policy of the now highly politicized Department of Justice. According to sworn testimony by several career Civil Rights Division prosecutors, attorneys in that office have been instructed that the Obama administration will not support "race-neutral" enforcement of the civil rights laws. So, for example, a blind eye will be turned to voter intimidation if it is carried out by blacks who favor Democratic candidates.
Similarly, the department will not enforce the voting-list maintenance requirements of the Motor Voter law. In other words, it's fine with the political appointees running Justice to leave the dead, the imaginary, the noncitizens, the felons and other improperly registered voters on the rolls. The folks in charge at Justice are not concerned about the obvious potential for fraudulent voting. Could this have to do with their expectations about how those votes will be cast?
In addition, although demanding proof of citizenship at the polling place is explicitly permitted by the 2002 Help America Vote Act, with respect to Motor Voter registrants, just half of the states require it. Yet many partisans are quick to claim "voter suppression" in response to efforts to protect the integrity of the process. Shouldn't all states verify the identities of voters in a time when we have to present photo identification to purchase over-the-counter cold medication?
On the eve of this year's election, reports abound of voting machines maintained by the Service Employees International Union that switch votes to favor Harry Reid or other Democrats, of absentee ballots never received by some or fraudulently applied for by others, and of districts where thousands of new voter-registration forms reflect obvious indicators of fraud.
This is a subject that should concern us all. Every fraudulent registration form burdens our system, and every vote cast fraudulently nullifies the vote of a citizen. Every tainted result undercuts the faith of honest and productive citizens in the government to which they pledge their allegiance and pay their taxes.
Today, too many of our political class care more about their own power than about the integrity of our institutions.
Ray Hartwell is a Navy veteran and Washington lawyer.
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