- - Sunday, August 6, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

You might think every good citizen would cheer attempts to protect the sanctity of the vote. Many good men and women have died for the right to vote, and we all owe it to them to protect what their sacrifice achieved for all.

The good news is that two U.S. District Court judges in Washington have struck mighty bipartisan blows in behalf of the ballot. Judge Royce C. Lamberth, appointed by President Reagan, last week rebuffed an attempt by Common Cause, the good-government advocacy group, to strangle the new Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly a few days earlier had turned away an attempt by the Electronic Privacy Information Center to obstruct the advisory commission’s request to the 50 states and the District of Columbia to supply data of its rolls of eligible voters.

The advisory commission wants to cross-check the registration data kept by the states to determine how many voters are registered in more than one jurisdiction and whether they have voted more than once in the same election. The advisory commission intends to run the names through government databases to identify the dead and non-citizen voters. The dead are usually not eligible to vote, though in Chicago and certain other places exceptions are made.

Common Cause had argued that the panel’s request for information about those engaging in protected First Amendment activities violates the U.S. Privacy Act. There’s a certain irony that this information about voters — names, addresses, dates of birth, party registration, voting history and other things — is information that most states are eager to sell to political parties and their candidates.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center sought to block the commission’s data request because it argued that the surveyors hadn’t conducted a privacy-impact review for government electronic data-collection systems, as required under a 2002 federal law. Judge Kollar-Kotelly, who was appointed to the bench by President Clinton, ruled that the White House advisory panel was exempt from federal privacy rules. “The mere increased risk of disclosure stemming from the collection and eventual … disclosure of already publicly available voter-roll information is insufficient” to enjoin the presidential panel’s data request.

“[N]either the Commission nor the Director of White House Information Technology — [which are] currently charged with collecting voter-roll information on behalf of the Commission — are ‘agencies’ for the purposes of the [Administrative Procedure Act],” she wrote.

The ruling was hailed as a victory for government accountability, transparency and the public’s right to know by the advisory commission. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the advisory commission, says it looks forward to “continuing to work with state election leaders to gather information and identify opportunities to improve election integrity.”

Many Democrats and other liberals insist that voter fraud is a phantom menace, that the commission’s true aim is to suppress voting, especially among minorities, single women and young people, groups that vote heavily Democratic. “We hear this nonsensical myth of voter fraud,” says Michael Blake, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee Vice Chairman. “It is not happening.”

Alas, it is happening, and even one stolen vote is one too many. A few hundred illegal votes here, a thousand there, and elections are stolen. Sometimes the cheated candidate is a Democrat, sometimes a Republican. If there’s no voter fraud anywhere, Democrats have nothing to fear from the 12-member commission, whose role is purely advisory. Five Democrats sit on the panel, including two secretaries of state.

“Every time voter fraud occurs, it cancels out the vote of a lawful citizen and undermines democracy,” President Trump said on the creation of the panel. Who among the frightened Democrats would argue with that, even it was Donald Trump who said it?

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