EDITORIAL: ‘Fair’ elections, Obama-style

Justice Department obstructs clean balloting

The November presidential election is shaping up as a clear choice between a vision of a smaller federal role and President Obama’s view that there’s no limit to what the government can do. One thing the administration won’t do is ensure the choices Americans make at the ballot box are properly counted.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has declared that widespread voter fraud “does not really exist” in the United States. That was before video guerrillas presented him with an up-close view of the problem. Earlier this month, anti-corruption activist James O’Keefe released footage showing a D.C. poll worker offering Mr. Holder’s ballot to an actor on primary day. The District does not require voters to produce identification, so the actor simply provided Mr. Holder’s name and address and - voila - he was handed the ballot. He declined to accept it in order to avoid actual voter fraud.

The stunt was an obvious attempt to embarrass the nation’s top law enforcement officer and demonstrate how easy it is to commit fraud where voter IDs are not mandatory. Mr. Holder’s defenders argue that a single incident does not mean large-scale ballot manipulation is actually happening. Still, it is obvious that the Justice Department’s refusal to back clean election efforts leaves widespread opportunities for mischief on Election Day.

Ballot irregularities have been cataloged across the country. In April 2011, officials for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in Nevada pleaded guilty to running an illegal voter-registration scheme. Earlier this month, Democratic Party officials in Indiana were indicted on vote fraud charges for purportedly forging signatures on Barack Obama’s 2008 primary petitions. In Virginia, 10 felons were charged with making false statements on voter registration forms.

Mr. Holder has blocked new state laws requiring voters to present government-issued IDs at polling places. In December, the Justice Department cited the 1965 Voting Rights Act in nullifying South Carolina’s new voter ID law, arguing that the new provision could discourage minorities who do not have an ID from voting. In March, Justice also blocked Texas from enforcing its statute.

The Pew Center on the States issued a report in February titled “Inaccurate, Costly and Inefficient,” which found about 24 million voter registrations, or 13 percent of the nation’s total, are invalid or contain major inaccuracies. As many as 2.75 million persons are registered in more than one state, and 1.8 million deceased individuals are still listed on voter rolls.

President Obama’s winning margin in the 2008 presidential election was less than 10 million, and George W. Bush’s in 2004 was just 3 million. With such a large number of registration inaccuracies, fraudulent ballots could determine the winner in a tight presidential contest.

Fair elections are a precondition for democratic governance. The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize the fundamental importance of an honest count only strengthens the growing notion that it seeks advantage, not justice. America is better than that.

The Washington Times

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