In a recent Rolling Stone article, The GOP War on Voting, author Ari Berman writes, “In a campaign supported by the Koch brothers, Republicans are working to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year.” While agreeing with many of the concerns expressed in that article, Black Box Voting director Bev Harris points out omissions and calls for a more nuanced and less partisan critique of voting practices.
As voting integrity proponents, we need to avoid jumping into the knee-jerk politicizing of issues from both Democrats and Republicans. Reading the details in the Rolling Stone article The GOP War on Voting, (as contrasted with the 90% of the article that is political editorializing), here are the main points — sometimes mischaracterized by the Rolling Stone reporter:
– Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering.
That is a significant obstacle, but the issue is somewhat thorny. Black Box Voting has been contacted by people who are not citizens but were registered to vote when applying for their driver’s license. If the law states that non-citizens cannot vote (this varies according to jurisdiction for non-federal elections) — but if people are handed a voter registration form when they get a drivers license — how will the law be followed? I’m not sure what the solution is, but the issue isn’t as simple as it sounds
– Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. (The article goes on to say: passed a law requiring anyone who signs up new voters to hand in registration forms to the state board of elections within 48 hours of collecting them.)
In the upcoming series of Black Box Voting reports on voter lists, the 48-hour submission requirement will be one of our recommendations. I will present evidence showing how last minute dumps of voter registration cards hurt everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike.
– Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973.
When we did the chain of custody and vote integrity exam in New Hampshire following the 2008 primary, we saw just how lackadaisical the safeguards are for same-day registration. In one location, the same-day registrants were simply a list of names, without even including addresses, tagged onto the end of the poll list. It was shocking and a haven for vote stuffing. New Hampshire actually prohibits citizens from validating the same-day registrants in any way. Without safeguards, same day registration is an open invitation to fraud. With safeguards, I like the concept, but when Washington D.C. decided to head to same-day registration, they too did not include the necessary safeguards.
– Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods.
The longer votes are being cast and counted before and after Election Day, the greater the potential for vote count fraud. In Florida, they are allowed to run the totals for early voting BEFORE election day, and that is true for many of the heavy absentee locations as well. Translation: Insiders can look at early vote totals and know exactly what is needed to rig the vote. I am not in favor of long early voting periods, or of scanning absentee ballots before or after Election Day.
– Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters.
This is not only obstructive, but contains hidden racism. I noticed when examining the Shelby County voter rolls that the number of Black male voters is significantly lower than the number of Black female voters. The number of Black male felons and ex-felons is massively higher than any other race or gender. By blocking ex-felons from voting, they knock off some five percent of Black male voters. Take that last number with a grain of salt. I’ll check my calculations before publishing the final article on that.
– And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.
I would like to see the citation for the “more than 10 percent” figure, which sounds too high. The problem with requiring ID is not that they are requiring ID, it is that by not making the ID free of charge for those who need it, they are implementing a de facto poll tax. I favor photo ID for voters IF it is made available conveniently and free of charge for those who need it. But voting without ID, in terms of risk, pales in comparison to the very high risk for vote stuffing and voter identity theft in no-fault absentee voting.
Now, as to the statement that there is pretty much no voter fraud, that is not true. The measure they are using — number of people arrested federally for it — is not appropriate. How many federal prosecutions are there for tampering with the vote through altering voting machine counts? None. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And the name of the game in election protection is putting in checks and balances to prevent.
I have found voters who voted twice while looking at the voter lists, and I have found dead people reappearing into the rolls (my theory is that they are actually alive, and were purged by accident as deceased). I will include that in my report.
What this article fails to mention is the fraud free-for-all the Democrats have opened up by pushing no-fault absentee voting into more than half the states in the USA.
I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the robot-like parroting of partisan political lines regarding what is and is not fair or safe. Instead, we need to acknowledge that the Republican team wants to minimize votes and the Democratic team wants to be able to stuff votes into the system, and move on from there to develop actual NONPARTISAN thinking about what safeguards are needed.
Basically, we need to be able to see and authenticate, without need for special expertise:
- Who can vote
- Who did vote
- Chain of custody
- The count
If we do those things, we will quickly be able to detect double-voting, vote stuffing, vote suppression, vote tampering.
The partisan approach tends not to get at the core issues, focusing everyone’s attention on the periphery, creating partisan bickering and non-thinking parroting of propaganda. Instead, real reforms getting at public right to see and authenticate the four areas, combined with real efforts to rewire public thinking as to responsibilities of the citizenry to engage in meaningful election watchdog actions — permanently — will create real, meaningful improvements.