- - Monday, July 17, 2017

The media came unhinged over President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity. CNN falsely claimed that 44 states had stonewalled requests for voter data, when only 14 had done so. Media outlets screamed “voter intimidation!” Their fury suggests that Mr. Trump is onto something really big.

The U.S. has a colorful history of voter fraud. Politicians jokingly urge us to “vote early and often!” Voters distrust our system. A Washington Post poll found that 84 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Independents, and 52 percent of Democrats believe that “a meaningful amount of voter fraud occurs in U.S. elections.”

How important is voter fraud? In 1948, Lyndon Johnson stole the election for U.S. Senate. With 20,000 rigged votes, he was still short of winning. But six days after the election, a corrupt political boss produced the infamous Magic Box 13, with 202 uncounted ballots. They were all recorded in identical handwriting, and went 100-1 in Johnson’s favor. That put him up by 87 votes, and the rest is history.

Chicago fraud and Texas ballot stuffing are widely credited with throwing the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy. Mayor Daley’s corrupt machine delivered huge tallies for Democrats, changing the election outcome.

Examples go on and on. But fast forward, and big city politics remain as crooked as ever. In 2008, New Black Panthers threatened white voters with a nightstick in Philadelphia, but their cases were thrown out once Barack Obama won.

Rudy Giuliani told CNN, “Dead people generally vote for Democrats instead of Republicans.” He said that only a moron would think the 2016 elections would be fair in Philadelphia or Chicago. He recalled 720 dead people voting in Chicago in 1982. Inner city voter fraud was endemic back then, and nothing has changed. So, when Mr. Trump said millions of illegal votes were cast in 2016, he may have been right.

Virginia is typical of states whose laws encourage voter fraud. Rep. Tom Garrett, Virginia, Republican, once convicted six people of voter fraud. Rep. Jim Moran’s son resigned as Field Director in Virginia after Project Veritas caught him on video discussing how to register 100 people illegally. He said, “There will be a lot of voter protection … but faking a utility bill would be easy enough.”

Andrew Spieles was convicted of registering 18 dead people for HarrisonburgVOTES in the 2016 presidential election. That year, Vafalay Massaquoi, an operative for New Virginia Majority, was also convicted on three felony counts for attempting to register fictitious people.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe took the unprecedented step of granting voting rights to 200,000 Virginia felons in 2016. Some received voter applications while they were still behind bars. The restored-felon list is now a magnet for voter fraud.

Federal Motor Voter encourages fraud too. In 2014, Delegate Bob Marshall, a Republican, observed registration at his local DMV. Customers used a touch-screen as they passed through the waiting line. Its questions were cunningly worded to facilitate fraud. First, the compound question, “Are you a citizen, and do you want to register to vote?” When a noncitizen entered “no,” the screen responded, “Are you sure you don’t want to register to vote?” That sequence implied that even noncitizens could register.

Indeed, noncitizens do register and vote. In 2015, one Kansas county began registering new citizens at naturalization ceremonies, only to discover that some had already voted illegally.

The Presidential Commission will run state voting lists against federal databases of legal aliens, temporary visas, and alien tax return filers. Many will already have voted illegally.

There are other huge targets for fraud. Kansas found 7.2 million people registered in multiple states. Millions of other registered voters are dead. How many are voting in multiple states, and how many dead people vote?

Many races are decided by narrow margins, so even small-scale rigging has big impacts. In 2000, George Bush won the presidency by just 537 votes cast in Florida.

It’s time to investigate fraud and fix our anemic election laws. When the Voter Integrity Commission does its work, it could become one of Mr. Trump’s greatest legacies.

• Richard H. Black is a Virginia state senator.

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