Voting irregularities marred elections last week. This recurring problem will get worse so long as laws governing how Americans register and cast ballots are liberalized instead of tightened.
The Connecticut governor’s race was especially bollixed up. Vote counts switched back and forth from the same jurisdictions, hundreds of ballots were “found” lying around in unguarded bags, and a local news station ran footage of a poll watcher being escorted from the premises for complaining about such slipshod procedures.
Votes materialized in a North Carolina congressional race that seems headed for a recount. In Houston, True the Vote is compiling a report on improper activity that includes widespread campaigning and pressuring of voters - or illegally prompting voters to cast straight Democratic tickets - at polling locations. Also in Houston, an elections “presiding judge” had an “alternate judge” forcibly removed for complaining that five New Black Panthers were openly electioneering within the polling place.
In Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Nevada campaign, there were numerous early complaints about machines registering Democratic votes when people tried to vote Republican.
Nationwide, strange “glitches” were reported, such as sudden electrical outages that interfered with voter-identification efforts, vote-casting and vote-counting. Some local judges ordered polls kept open hours later than provided by law. In Bucks County, Pa., the district attorney investigated absentee-vote fraud regarding 1,405 ballots processed through a fictitious Pennsylvania Office of Voter Assistance that appeared to be operated by the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee. According to Associated Press, “Approximately 75 voting ballots that disappeared when officials say a San Francisco polling inspector took off with them Tuesday … were found floating in a pond.”
These problems are exacerbated by laws allowing people to register or vote without identification, vote early for no reason other than convenience and mail in ballots by the hundreds of thousands. This system promotes uncertainty for weeks after an election while providing time for creative mischief. In 2004, for example, Democrat Christine Gregoire was pronounced governor of Washington state by a mere 129 votes after weeks of legal wrangling that allowed hundreds of disputed and newly “discovered” ballots to be counted.
Voting is the most important civic duty in a republic. Preserving the integrity of the vote is a public trust that’s far too widely abused.