The Vote Fraud Problem Is Real And The Fourth Circuit Just Made It Worse
Donald Trump’s recent statement that the upcoming election might be “rigged” set off a firestorm, with many on the left decrying his claim while many of his supporters saying that he was highlighting a serious problem.
I am in neither of those camps, but believe that the nation does face a grave election integrity problem. It goes way back in time and has been worsening in recent years as techniques for manufacturing votes have been sharpened.
Ballot fraud is illegal in all states, but some of them have taken steps intended to prevent it because a) it’s almost impossible to kick out an illegal vote once it has been cast and b) vote fraud is extremely hard to detect and prosecute. A small step in that direction is a law requiring people to show valid picture identification before they’re given a ballot.
Indiana has had such a law since 2005 and its constitutionality was upheld by the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board in 2008. Indiana’s Secretary of State, Connie Lawson, notes in this article that voter turnout increased after the law’s implementation and that there is no compelling evidence that any voters have been blocked from voting due to the stricter identification requirements.
However, on June 29th the Fourth Circuit struck down a similar North Carolina law enacted in 2013 in NAACP v. McCrory. The three-judge panel (one Clinton appointee and two Obama appointees), chose to disregard the evidence that the law was enacted to deal with a real ballot integrity problem and instead looked at it as a Republican conspiracy to deprive black citizens of the right to vote. Judge Motz wrote in her opinion that the law targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision,” even though the law applies to all citizens without regard to race and free ID cards are available from the state.
Judge Motz also resorts to the assertion that vote fraud is a problem that doesn’t exist, which raises a logical question: how does she know that it never happens or only with extreme rarity? How can anyone claim knowledge that things are not happening? Anyway, there is abundant evidence that vote fraud does happen and with regularity.
Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund, who has written two books on the problem of vote fraud (his latest, with Hans von Spakovsky is Who’s Counting?:How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk) penned an article on August 14 entitled “Media Are Flat Wrong to Dismiss Voter-Fraud Concerns.” Fund points out, i that the late Senator Arlen Specter acknowledged that in Pennsylvania vote fraud was common and notorious. Fund also quotes former Philadelphia City Councilman Jimmy Tayoun (who went to prison for corruption) on the tactics of fraud: “You can flood a lot of phony names and phony addresses, and there’s no way they’re going to check.”
Invalidating a law over nothing more than assumptions about bad motives in enacting it is politicized judging at its worst. This National Review editorial puts the point well: “Te Fourth Circuit went out of its way to ignore evidence, impugn the motives of North Carolina’s legislature, and concoct specious legal rationales to forward a political agenda.”
North Carolina can, of course, appeal to the Supreme Court, but given the current split, it seems likely that the ruling against the state would be upheld.
The Fourth Circuit’s decision, along with a similar one in Wisconsin, is part of a coordinated assault by the left on elections. As attorney J. Christian Adams writes in this article, “The integrity of our elections is suffering from a coordinated, multi-million dollar attack on multiple fronts. It’s far more complicated than one centralized high-powered conspiracy to ‘rig’ the election. A more sophisticated understanding of what is happening is essential to combat the real threat.”
Adams proceeds to document what he sees as the five biggest threats, and voter impersonation isn’t even one of them. He writes, “I’d wager that more votes are cast by ineligible aliens than by those impersonating voters.” Voter ID laws therefore are at best a small part of the solution.
They can’t stop many kinds of fraud, such as one that a friend who lived in California in 2000 told me about.
He went to vote and was given a punch card ballot to insert into the machine. Just as he did so, he noticed that there was already one punch in the ballot. He put it into the machine and discovered that the punch was for Al Gore in the presidential race. If he hadn’t noticed that and had voted for another candidate, his ballot wouldn’t have counted. When he took the ballot back and asked for another, the next one on the pile had also been pre-voted for Gore. Eventually an election worker found an unspoiled ballot for him.
Someone was guilty of election fraud in that instance, and got away with it. Probably more than a few voters in my friend’s precinct had their votes negated because partisans who thought that winning was more important than honesty had access to the ballots. I doubt if any law can prevent that but if one were proposed, I’m certain that “progressives” would find a pretext for opposing it.
Nor will voter ID laws stop the far more serious problem of absentee ballot fraud, as discussed in this Florida Watchdog article. And, more worrisome still, is the prospect of voting machines being hacked. Voter ID laws won’t prevent that either. Still, we should do whatever we can.
Opposition to voter ID laws (and other efforts at stopping election fraud) seems rooted in a calculus that it’s better to allow some fraudulent votes to be cast than to “disenfranchise” even one person with a rule that makes voting a tiny bit more difficult. But that’s a mistaken way of looking at the problem.
When any fraudulent vote is cast, it negates an honest one. That is a palpable wrong. On the other hand, no one is “disenfranchised” by these laws. No one is kept from voting. All the laws say is that if you want to vote, you need to plan ahead by following certain easy steps. Most do, and it’s perfectly legitimate to help anyone who has trouble.
Here’s a revealing comparison – the difference between the way the left looks at campaign finance laws and voting laws. They’re eager to enforce the former to the maximum, even to the point of sending conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza to prison for a violation of McCain-Feingold. But when it comes to vote fraud, they shrug.
To point out the obvious, “progressives” want very strict enforcement of campaign finance laws where that helps them, and lax enforcement of voting laws where that helps them. They know that loose voting rules and procedures help them pad the totals for their candidates.
It’s also worth noting that the justification they give for the First Amendment-hostile campaign finance laws is that they’re necessary to protect against the appearance that our elections are unfair because some people spend “too much” money. They don’t actually accomplish that, but what about the appearance that our elections are unfair due to the casting of illegal ballots, the negating of honest ones, and so on? That ought to matter at least as much, but it doesn’t bother progressives at all. Winning is everything and they know what helps.
In the old days, Americans cheated in elections because they wanted patronage jobs. Today, the cheating is motivated by a far wider array of government goodies, reflecting the fact that the government now has such vast power over our lives. That’s the root of this evil.
Originally posted on Forbes.