- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2004

A little-reported phenomenon appears to have had an impact on results in Florida in the 2000 election and could resurface in the upcoming November vote.

According to an investigation by the New York Daily News, approximately 46,000 New Yorkers are registered to vote in both New York and in Florida, and of those voters, 68 percent are Democrats, 12 percent are Republicans and 16 percent are independent. Almost 1,700 voters that registered in both states requested that absentee ballots be sent to their homes in the other state, where they are also registered. Those numbers suggest that up to 1,000 illegal votes were cast for Al Gore in Florida.

The issue is important because the Democrats continue to claim that George W. Bush stole Florida in the 2000 election. Apparently, however, it was the Democrats who were cheating. Any credible look at Florida in 2000 should include the issue of double-voting. Mr. Bush won in pivotal Florida by a margin of 537 votes.

Double-voting strikes fundamentally at America’s democracy. Unfortunately, there are no attractive methods of countering the problem. Some have proposed a national voter-registration system that would assign federal voter ID numbers, but that would encroach upon an area that is legitimately a function of state government, not Washington. One less intrusive approach to checking the problem may be a voluntary system of state-to-state cooperation in sharing data to detect double-voting.

Under current law, voters already are subject to serious penalties for cheating. Those who cast a ballot more than once face a fine of up to $10,000 and five years in jail. But deterrence is undermined by the fact that violations are virtually impossible to uncover.

Policy-makers should begin a debate about strategies to counter double-voting, including state-to-state cooperation. As yet, there are no plans to match registries across state lines. The 2000 election highlighted how critical each vote can be, but a vote should not be counted twice. Florida Republicans should be prepared for the possibility of Democratic double-voting. They also need to be prepared for the likelihood that blowing the whistle on such illegal activity will subject them to false charges that the GOP is trying to steal the election.

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