Reader reaction to my last column on voter fraud precisely proved my point.
We have become so consumed with spewing political snark in this country that we’re often blinded to our problems. We’re so busy throwing darts at those who don’t think exactly as we do that we fail to see the unraveling of our most basic systems.
“Voter suppression exists. Not voter fraud,” wrote reader Elizabeth Blackburn. “It’s just an excuse to keep minorities from voting.”
She missed my point.
Voter suppression was not the topic of my last column but I don’t doubt it exists. The last presidential election was also not mentioned but that didn’t stop readers from taking a partisan leap after I expressed concern about the existence of voter fraud in American elections.
“Did you notice that the nation is in an actual crisis over the moral bankruptcy of our fascist, racist, isolationist President,” Whitney Buchanan wrote to scold me. “Or maybe you think everything is fine because your head is also buried in the sand.” She then wished me a “speedy recovery.” Cute, but again way off the point.
It is as if Blackburn, Buchanan and the many others who wrote hadn’t even read the column in which I reported voter fraud facts from Ohio, California, North Carolina and Virginia. Officials in those states admit they have had a problem.
The names of dead citizens remain on the voter rolls and records show votes have been cast using their names. How is that not fraud?
Yet reader Critz George wrote to declare, “Academics have done research on this and none have turned up any evidence for more than a trivial rate of improper votes cast.” That made me wonder how many fraudulent votes we should feel comfortable with. My answer would be none. But then George seemed to say illegal voters should be rewarded!
“If that few care that much for the public weal, one could argue that they deserve a medal.” So, we should applaud those who illegally vote? I don’t think so, Mr. George.
I had reported another type of voter fraud as well. Election records show that some citizens who are registered to vote in more than one state cast ballots in two states in the same election. Maybe they got a mail-in ballot in one state and showed up at the polls to vote in the other state. Or, someone could have stolen their identity and cast a ballot in their absence. Either way, that is fraud. Disturbingly, when this criminal activity is detected there are few prosecutions.
If voter fraud is happening in the four states I mentioned you can bet it is happening in other states too.
This is the sloppy way in which we treat one of our most revered American rights? Common sense tells us that our right (and duty) to vote is one of the most important components of our Republic. We do not take sufficient care of that sacred system, in my opinion.
Voting rolls across the country are flawed and little, or next to nothing is being done about it because everyone is too busy hurling politically motivated put downs. Disturbingly, we have begun to embrace a deflect-from-the-topic way of thinking and conversing with each other. (Deflectivity, if I may coin a phrase.) Example: I say I’d like to improve my glass of milk by adding chocolate syrup and someone automatically argues, “But what about the rising rate of childhood obesity?” It’s a completely off-the-point conversation. It’s as if we’ve lost our ability to focus.
Back to my original topic. Do we investigate and really get to the bottom of how prevalent voter fraud is in this country or do we allow the problem to grow and fester?
I say every state should take a serious deep dive look into their particular situation. First, purge dead people’s names from the voter rolls with a quick check of the state’s death records. That should be easy to do. And, maybe Congress passes a law banning voter registration in more than one state. If you’re lucky enough to own two homes pick one state in which you register to vote. If you move your residence from one state to another you should be responsible for removing your name from the voting rolls in the state you are leaving. Then, when you register in your new community you must swear, under penalty of law, that you are registered in only one state. Finally, prosecutors must make it a priority to arrest and seek convictions for those who participate in voter fraud.
These are some solid suggestions on how to strengthen our voting system. No snark, no political sniping – just solid ideas on how we might make the system more reliable. It doesn’t mean we ignore instances of voter suppression or the annoying boasts of a president who continues to crow about his victory. It just means we tackle one problem at a time. Really, that’s the only way things get done.