The dominant story of this year’s Presidential election is fraud. Even more than the growing crescendo of intimidation and violence, the vital fact that looms ominously over the most important election in a generation is that American elections can be stolen. Easily. George Will writes:
the National Voter Registration Act — a.k.a. “Motor Voter”… imposed “fraud-friendly” rules on the states, requiring them, for example, to register to vote anyone receiving a driver’s license, and to offer mail-in registration with no identification required.
Given such measures, perhaps we should not be surprised that…since 1995, Philadelphia’s population has declined 13 percent but registered voters have increased 24 percent….
The unexamined belief that an ever-higher rate of voter registration is a Good Thing has met its limit in the center of the state that this year is the center of the political universe — Ohio. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2003 estimate is that in Franklin County — Columbus — there are approximately 815,000 people 18 or over. But 845,720 are now registered.
One reason for such unacceptable numbers in various jurisdictions across the nation is that voter rolls are not frequently enough purged of voters whose status has changed.
Unfortunately, there is reluctance, especially among Republicans, to support measures that might appear to have a “disparate impact” on minorities and therefore be denounced as racist.
In Ohio, likely to be the decisive state this year, Republicans have filed challenges to more than 35,000 newly-registered “voters.” These are individuials to whom letters were mailed, but returned as undeliverable, suggesting that the newly-registered voter either is dead, does not exist, or does not live in the precince where he or she is newly registered. The Republicans’ challenges were, of course, denounced as undemocratic.
The reality is that no serious effort is made to prevent voter fraud. Here in Minnesota, as in many states, anyone can go from precinct to precinct, voting in each. A prospective voter cannot be required to produce identification or evidence that he or she lives in the precinct if a registered voter “vouches” for that person. And there is no limit on how many people a single registered voter can vouch for. So as a practical matter, the only limit on fraud in Minnesota is the willingness of an individual to take the time to go from precinct to precinct, or to come to Minnesota to vote after already voting in another state–say, Wisconsin or Iowa. The same is true in many other states.
The bottom line is that if this election is close enough, it will be stolen. If it is too close to steal but still close, the result will be months or years of litigation, designed either to give John Kerry the Presidency, or to deny President Bush legitimacy in his second term. Under current law, there is no solution to the problem of voter fraud other than a one-sided election. And this year, that doesn’t look likely.