by John Fund
I agree we should never disenfranchise people. But there are two ways to disenfranchise people. One is to block people from voting, or to intimidate them from voting, as the Ku Klux Klan did. But there is another civil right that every one of you has: it is the right not to have your vote canceled out. If there are people who do not have ID, I say, let's get them one. The ID should be free, and it should be easy to obtain. And speak up about these problems: the more the public speaks up, the easier it will be to solve them.The basic trajectory of this race was set months ago. We have a very weak economy. We have an unstable foreign situation.
Now, history is not determinative, but the White House is very, nervous: they cannot break through 50.
There is one major fly in this ointment: there is always a plan B that the other side has. Plan B involves taking a thumb and putting it on the scale of democracy and pressing hard. If you cannot win a real majority, you create a new majority. As someone said, "I think you know what we mean by creating a new majority. It may not be the real one, it may not even be real people, but it exists."
This issue really makes the left nervous, in an astonishing way, because they only have two reactions to the subject of voter fraud. One is, it doesn't exist. How many of you have heard that: "It doesn't exist"? Everyone knows it doesn't exist.
Two, if you do anything to combat it, it is racist and discriminatory. End of conversation.
Well, to briefly address those two questions: It doesn't exist? Well, 66% of the American people, according to the latest Rasmussen poll this month, say it is a serious or somewhat serious problem. That includes 65% of African-Americans, who think it is a serious or somewhat serious problem; they often live in places where they can see the voter fraud right outside their window.
They are called machine cities, where, whether it's Chicago or Philadelphia or Detroit, they steal elections. And by the way, I think the biggest victims of voter fraud often are people in minority communities who live under the thumb of machine rule and cannot change City Hall if City Hall keeps stealing the election out from under them.
Whether it is Detroit or Philadelphia or the South border counties of Texas, Hispanic, African-American, Asian minority groups often suffer from the worst public schools, the worst roads, the worst services, the worst kind of government -- and they cannot change it because the election is stolen
Artur Davis, the former Democratic congressman from Alabama, who seconded Barack Obama's nomination for President at the Denver Convention in 2008, finally said that he'd had enough of this party. He said he knew they steal elections in Alabama, and that the biggest vote suppression in this country is the wholesale manufacturer of ballots in places where people are helpless to stop it.
He said there are counties that are ruled by machines in his district, and that he has been asked to contribute money to perpetuate the voter fraud. He refused. He said it is ridiculous to oppose voter-ID laws, but that he has given up.
And by the way, Artur Davis has just a couple of months ago finally become a Republican; he will be a major addition to the conservative ranks.
So voter fraud "doesn't exist." Well, let's just look at some recent examples. In Iowa, they just jailed three people for voting illegally. They were non-citizens: two Canadians and a Mexican.
In Maryland, the Democratic Congressional nominee in the Annapolis District had to resign. Why? Because she had been voting in Florida and Maryland in the same elections for years -- very civically minded!
A couple of years before that, a former Democratic Congressman in Pennsylvania was convicted of voter fraud. His crime was going into nursing homes filled with Alzheimer's Disease patients and, shall we say, assisting them unnecessarily with their ballots.
If a former Congressman and a Congressional nominee will do that, almost anyone will -- if the right incentives and the right lack of, well, prosecutorial zeal is available.
Bill Clinton of course says there is no voter fraud. He mounted the stage of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in August to say that this is a solution in search of a problem as we all know there is no voter fraud.
Well, back in Arkansas, where he used to be the Attorney General and the Governor, the day he was making this speech, two hours before he mounted the podium, a jury convicted a Democratic state legislator, a city Councilman in West Memphis, and a police official at West Memphis, on 45 counts of what does not exist.
I do not know how many more examples you need. I will just leave you with one example of how voter fraud changed history. We all know that there was a very contentious Senate race in 2008 in Minnesota between former Senator Norm Coleman and Al Franken. In a very close race, Norm Coleman won on election night. There were recounts, he won those, but they kept recounting.
You all know the job of a recount brigade: you count, you count, and you count until your side is ahead, and then you immediately move to stop counting.
Well, after eight months of legal wrangling and court cases, the seat was finally declared Al Franken's by 312 votes. He went to Washington, he became the 60th Democratic Senator in 2009, and he became the 60th Senator for Obamacare. They needed 60 votes to break the Senate filibuster. We would not have Obamacare today if Al Franken had not been there.
Now, months after Obamacare passed, a watchdog group, called Minnesota Majority, found irrefutable evidence that 1,100 felons had voted illegally in that election: 1,100. We cannot be sure how they voted, but Mike Plant from FOX News went around to a bunch of people and asked them how they voted; they were the felons who had voted illegally. Nine out of ten said they had voted for Al Franken.
We cannot be sure how felons vote; it is a secret ballot. But when they register to vote, and in over half the states they register by party, the answer is 75-80% -- I leave it to you to figure out which party that is. So the reasonable assumption is Al Franken took his seat because of illegal votes.
You could not prosecute any of those people unless you could prove intent to commit the crime: that is the legal standard. So you basically had to have felons who were stupid enough to do the following: confess that they had voted illegally, admit they knew it was wrong, and basically said, What's it to you, copper?
Well, there were 198 of them, at least, who were stupid enough; and they have all been convicted of felony voter fraud in the Minnesota election which elected Al Franken. 66 more cases are in the pipeline, and dozens more are being investigated. We may yet end up with more people convicted of felony voter fraud in the Al Franken election than Al Franken's victory margin. Do not ever let anyone tell you that voter fraud doesn't matter and doesn't change history: It gave us Obamacare.
As for voter-ID laws and other attempts to clean up our election integrity, they are called racist. Let me tell you how absurd this has gotten. A private family foundation in Ohio and Wisconsin a few weeks ago put up 140 billboards which simply said, "Voter fraud is a felony: $10,000 fine, or three-and-a-half years in prison." And they had a picture of a judge's gavel.
Well, that brought everyone out. They said it was the return of Jim Crow -- that was what the Cleveland Plain Dealer called it. They said it was an attempt to intimidate voters. They said the unprinted message was, We will do anything we can to stop your vote.
A majority of the signs were in neighborhoods that were minority, but by no means all. And by the way, Cleveland and Milwaukee are primarily minority cities, so it should not surprise you that they might be in minority neighborhoods.
Cleveland and Milwaukee have had long histories of voter fraud. A 78-page police report by the Milwaukee Police Department's Investigative Unit a few years ago found an organized conspiracy that tried to steal the 2004 Presidential Election. They found there were 6,000 people, for example, who had registered to vote at the polls on election day. They voted, their ballots were counted, but when the mail went out to their addresses to give them their voter registration card, 6,000 of them came back: there was no such address, or it was a vacant lot, or the person had not been there for years.
So voter fraud does exist in Milwaukee and Cleveland. Originally, Clear Channel, who owned the billboards on which those messages were posted, said: Okay, look, we don't agree with the message, but it is a contract, we signed it, we are going to honor it.
But a few more days of protest and threatened boycotts from the same people who tried to boycott Glenn Beck, and what happened? Clear Channel said: Well, we made a mistake in signing the contract, we would never do it again.
Then, after a few more days of protests, they caved. They announced that all of the billboards were coming down, even though there was a signed contract; and that they were going to put up an equal number of billboards saying, "Voting is a right, not a crime."
This suppression of free speech should trouble all of us. It was simply a factual statement: Voter fraud is a felony. That, apparently, is racist. That, apparently, is an attempt to intimidate or deny people the right to vote and therefore cannot be said. So not only does voter fraud not exist, you cannot even say that it is a crime. This is how bad things have gotten.
The good news is that voter fraud is a lot like shoplifting. If stores do not put up signs that say, "Violators will be prosecuted," if they do not put up cameras, if they do not take basic security precautions, they are going to get a lot of shoplifting. But if they take these elementary security precautions, studies have shown they cut shoplifting right off the top at a 30 to 40% reduction.
The same with voter fraud: If you let people know you are talking about it, that you are aware of it, that it is an issue, that people are watching, that there is a group called truethevote.org out there training 300,000 people to monitor the polls, to look at absentee ballot applications, to see if they are kosher, to clean up voter registration rolls, I think we can dramatically reduce voter fraud.
And, believe me, it may be necessary. This election looks as if it might be as close as 2000 or 2004. And you never cheat in a landslide, you only cheat when you think it is close; that is why we have to worry.
We are constantly told that this is a civil rights issue, the right to vote is fundamental. Well, I agree, we should never disenfranchise people. But there are two ways to disenfranchise people. One is to block people from voting, to intimidate them from voting, as Klu Klux Klan people did in the South and the new Black Panther Party did in Philadelphia -- the case that the Obama administration decided to drop.
We fought a great civil rights struggle in the 1960s to stop that, and abolish poll taxes and literacy tests. We need to preserve those gains. We need to make sure we never go back to that. That is important.
But there is another civil right that each and every one of you has: it is the civil right not to have your vote canceled out. The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that if someone votes who should not be voting, if he is voting twice, if he is a non-citizen, if he is a felon, if he has moved out of state, if he does not even exist -- this cancels out your vote. This disenfranchises you just as much as if someone stood in the polling place door, held up their hand and said 'You cannot come in here'. That is a civil right too.
Chris Dodd, the former Democratic Senator from Connecticut, who passed one of the rare bipartisan voter reform bills in this country before this issue became racist, said it best. Ten years ago when he passed the Help America Vote Act, he said: "Our goal in our election should be to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat."
We can do both. These are not contradictory goals. Sadly, they have become contradictory issues. There is a bunch of people who somehow believe that any attempt to clean up our election system is wrong. Well, the system needs cleaning up.
The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan liberal organization, says that one out of eight voter-registrations in this country is either invalid or contains major errors -- one out of eight. It is higher in New York than other states.
Pew also says we have four million people registered to vote in more than one state. But of course no one would ever do that! Well, the New York Daily News a couple of years ago did a survey; it found 46,000 people in New York City who were also registered to vote in Florida. We call them Snowbirds. A thousand of them had also voted in more than one election in both states.
You say 1,000 votes is nothing. Florida decided the presidency in 2000 by 537 votes. It can be a big difference.
Another thing we are constantly told never happens is voter impersonation, as there are so few cases of people impersonating someone at the polls. Well, how would you know if someone impersonates a dead person? We have two million dead people on our voter rolls -- two million. I guarantee you, if you vote in the name of a dead person, he is unlikely to complain. I believe we should honor the dead.
Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the United States, also claims there is no voter fraud, but in April, an associate of James O'Keefe, the man who did the videotapes on ACORN and NPR -- sent a 22-year-old white kid with an earring and a beard into Eric Holder's polling place in Washington D.C. Eric Holder had lived in that precinct for 32 years. It is not as if they didn't know him.
The 22-year-old kid walks up to the polling place. He does not say he is Eric Holder, he just says: Do you have an Eric Holder on Brookhaven Terrace? He does not even give the street address. And the poll worker's response was, "Oh, yes, here's your ballot."
The kid asks, "Do I have to show ID?
"Oh no," says the poll worker. "We don't ask for that here."
Now, the kid was not there to commit a crime; he was there to test the system. So he says, "Well, I really would feel more comfortable if I went out to my car and brought my ID in. I'll be back faster than you can say furious." The poll worker did not even get the inside joke.
If it can happen to Eric Holder, it can happen to anyone. And believe me, Eric Holder never voted in primaries, because after all, the Democratic primary does not decide anything in Washington D.C. No election decides anything in Washington D.C. It just moves on in its own path, between worst and worster - so we would never have known.
Another problem is that it is illegal for some states, the State of New York for example, to remove the name of someone who has died from the voter rolls. In 1993, the very first piece of legislation Bill Clinton of the Democratic Congress passed -- before budget, before anything, before the first funding for the Hillary Care Commission -- was something called Motor Voter. How many of you have heard of Motor Voter?
Probably most of you have not, and that is the way they like it. Motor Voter changed our election laws nationwide, even though the states and counties were supposed to run elections. This was an override of the states and counties. Motor Voter said basically two things: First, that anyone can register to vote with a simple postcard. He does not have to prove who he is, who he says he is, he does not have to prove anything. He can just send it in and he is automatically registered.
The second thing it said is, except under extraordinary circumstances, you cannot remove anyone from a voter registration list until at least nine years have elapsed after that person has stopped voting.
Now, there are some exceptions, but effectively, this is why we have one out of eight registrations that is invalid. There is a reason for this.
How did we get Motor Voter after Congress passed it? Well, the Governor of Illinois, Jim Edgar, tried to stop it. He was the former Secretary of State. He went to the federal courts and said, "Look, this is preposterous. I live in Illinois. We have Chicago here. I know what this is going to happen in Chicago. This is going to be increasing the massive voter fraud even more." He said, "It is also an unfunded federal mandate. It is unconstitutional for them to impose this on my state." So they had to go to court.
This case became the test case for all other challenges to Motor Voter, the precedent. The group that sued Governor Edgar in order to impose Motor Voter on Illinois and effectively the rest of the country was called ACORN.
Any of you heard of ACORN? Well, ACORN is now defunct, but is operating under new management in smaller subsidiaries. ACORN's lawyer was Barack Obama. He brought us Motor Voter. He created the template, the conditions by which he may try to adjust the results of this election. He has a long history with ACORN.
Before he was ACORN's lawyer, he was the top trainer at their seminars. Before that, he was the head of Project Vote, their voter registration arm in Illinois. He is marinated in ACORN. We have a President from ACORN in the White House.
Now, he, of course, will have nothing to do directly with anything that happens, but I can assure you he has friends, especially friends from his old days, who know exactly what to do and will operate behind the curtain. We know the three things that will be said on election day: There is no voter fraud; Those are not the droids you are looking for; and Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and what he is doing.
What impact can they have in real-time? Will the 300,000 volunteers who are poised to monitor the elections be able to catch people committing voter fraud? Probably not, but that is not the issue. Deterrence is the issue. If you have observers at a polling place, you will have less fraud. If you have people looking through absentee ballot applications and saying, "This address no longer exists; you should not accept a vote that comes from this address," that helps.
For most people who prevent shoplifting, their job is not to catch everyone who shoplifts, their job is to deter people from shoplifting. Voter fraud used to have no risks at all. This year there will be some risk, and I think those 300,000 people just by being there will make a difference, but we can always make more of a difference -- and we should.
On the question of voter-ID, in many countries, such as Israel, for example, or France, there are close elections and very strict ID rules. Apparently they are still democracies. In America, you cannot do anything without an ID. You cannot cash a check, you cannot hold a real job, you cannot travel, you cannot marry, you cannot get a welfare benefit, you cannot get on Medicare, you cannot get on Medicaid. Without an ID you cannot do anything.
The Brennan Center, the George Soros-funded operation down at NYU, claimed that 10% of Americans do not have an ID, and and 25% of African-Americans do not. Unless you are bedridden or off the grid, how do you survive? If there are people who do not have ID, I say let's get them one. We are doing them a favor. The ID should be free, and it should be easy to obtain.
The Pennsylvania Law was so easy. Here is what the law said: You have to show a government-issued ID. It is free. If you forget it or you do not have one and you show up at the polls, you can cast a provisional ballot. It is set aside, to counted six days later, after you have submitted some identification. You can submit the identification by email, by fax, by regular post, or by showing up in person.
Let's say you lack the money to get the supporting documentation to get your ID, or cannot afford the $10 to get a copy of your birth certificate to get an ID. You sign a form at the polling place saying, "I couldn't get the documentation." They will count your vote anyway. If you cast an absentee vote, you do not even need an ID.
So the bottom line is, there was no way anybody was going to be denied the right to vote. Their claim was preposterous, but they managed to delay everything in court long enough that there wasn't time to implement it in the judge's final decision.
I think this election may come down not to Ohio, but to Pennsylvania, and that is why the left fought so fiercely against the ID Law.
But here is the irony: in Pennsylvania, the law will still require you, if you show up at the polls for this election, to be asked for your ID. If you refuse to give an ID, they still have to count your vote. But I think it will be very interesting for those 300,000 election observers around the country -- for the ones in Pennsylvania -- to be stationed at the polls taking note of who is it exactly who is asked for an ID and refuses to give one. That is a very interesting list we will be watching.
There is also the question: Is the problem one of lack of enforcement of existing laws, or an issue of laws just not existing? Is the main problem people voting at the voting station who should not be voting, or of invalid papers being mailed in?
The answer is that the bigger problem is ballot papers being mailed in as absentee ballots. But we will never know the full extent of how much of a problem there is at the polls, because if you do not ask for ID, how would you know? If, for instance, you found someone who had died, or someone you knew had moved out of state, if you voted in their name, I can almost guarantee you would not be caught. So how would we know?
Voting is a state matter. The constitution leaves election administration to the states, as it does education. Luckily, a lot of states are moving to reform their laws, including their absentee ballot laws. So I am hopeful in the long run, but the short run is now.
Voter IDs are also all handled at the state level. Any state that has passed an ID Law says the ID shall be free, so there is no charge it. The argument is -- as some states charge $10 or $15 if you do not have your birth certificate or another form of proof that you are who you say you are -- that this is a poll tax.
Voting is a right, but one that carries with it responsibilities, just as being a citizen does. So you have a right to vote, but in order to cast a legal vote, you have certain responsibilities you must undertake in order to have that vote counted. You must register to vote. You must fill out the ballot properly. You must put the ballot in the box….
I am not saying every place has voter fraud. There are a lot of places that do not. There are a lot of places that have very good election administrators. The good news is that these states are passing laws. We have, in fact, six states which have passed voter-ID laws now being held up in the courts.
If you are a lawyer or even have some legal background, you can go to the website, rnla.org, Republican National Lawyers Association; or if you are a Democrat, you can go to the Democratic National Lawyers Association. You can volunteer to be a volunteer lawyer, monitoring the polls, preparing for litigation. You can go to truethevote.org and sign up. I am not advocating any one particular organization. There are other groups out there that do this: election integrity projects, voter integrity projects. But talking about it with your friends and making them understand would be a great help. The prosecutors have said that the more the public speaks up about these issues, the more easily they are able to prosecute those crimes, and the easier it will be to solve these problems.
74% of Americans support photo ID laws according to the Rasmussen poll, and only 12% of the American population thinks there is no voter fraud at all, or that it is not a problem. Authentification wins all 38 demographic categories; even self-described liberal progressives and MSNBC viewers support photo ID at the polls. So we have a winning issue.
For the military, a Senator pointed out recently that Congress had passed a law in 2009 which mandated the establishment of a voting office at every overseas military base to facilitate voting. After over three years, barely half of those offices have opened.
There is also a consistent problem with states sending out absentee ballots late; but the Obama Pentagon has been slow-walking this issue. How do I know they have been slow-walking it? Let me give you an example. A few years ago, I think at the beginning of the Obama administration, a group of military veterans convinced FedEx and DHL to provide at-cost delivery of ballots and return of ballots. Basically it would be the ultimate bulk rate, no profit. So we are talking $2-$3 a ballot, a very low price.
They went to the federal government and said, We will provide airmail shipment of the ballots and the return by FedEx or DHL for $2-3. The response of the Obama administration was, Oh, we cannot do that. This is such an important duty involving the United States government and its elections. We can only trust the paragon of efficiency called the United States Postal Service. And we all know they do a wonderful job….
By the way, one of the reasons I am so opposed to states such as Oregon and Washington that have gone to all-mail voting is that if you mail a 100 letters first class, do you think all 100 get delivered? Well, I know they don't. The most jealously guarded secret in the government is not anything in the Pentagon; it is the post office's non-delivery statistics. They are not huge, but they would still shock you. It is 2-3%.
So going back to today's election, I do not want another Florida type of meltdown as we had in 2000 with Bush v. Gore. We went through recount after recount -- the courts and the lawyers got involved in something the voters should have decided -- and we had 47 days of a constitutional crisis.
If we have a close election, the situation is much worse now than it was in 2000. In Florida, in 2000, the problem caught everyone by surprise. This year, there are 10,000 lawyers monitoring the election. You no longer have to win this November with a margin of victory. You only need to win with a margin beyond litigation. That is why if we are going to go to a sudden death playoff -- and we are going to go to recounts -- I want to make sure that we do as much as possible to prevent and limit voter fraud before the election; after the election it is too late.
This article was originally delivered in longer form as an address before the Gatestone Institute, New York City, October 23, 2012.John Fund
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