10.24.2012 0

Should the dead vote? Voter integrity takes center stage

Night of the Voting Dead

Photo Credit: Hampton Roads Tea Party

By Rebekah Rast — Should dead people be able to vote?  No, of course not.

Yet some states are in a hurry to get the deceased off their voter rolls.

Politico reported in May 2012 that as many as 53,000 dead people and 182,000 non-U.S. citizens may be registered to vote in Florida.

In September, The Charlotte News Observer states that the Voter Integrity Project presented the North Carolina Board of Elections with a list of nearly 30,000 names of dead people statewide who are still registered to vote.

The state of Texas also gathered a list of about 77,000 possibly deceased voters in its attempt to purge its voter rolls.

Why is there a nationwide effort to get the deceased off the voter rolls?

Since a mass resurrection of these once voters on Nov. 6 isn’t likely, removing them from the voter rolls is a way to protect the integrity of the voting process in this upcoming election.

Going into a contentious election like this one, it makes sense to rid the system early of any potential ways to commit voter fraud.   Elections are one of the building blocks of this nation’s democracy, and their integrity in the United States is critical to the government functioning by the consent of the governed.

Despite America’s unique freedom and privilege to participate in the voting process, it is not unheard of for individuals, groups or even political parties to fraud the system.

Remember ACORN in 2008?  This group made a concerted effort to file thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms to benefit the Obama election effort.  This became a national scandal causing Congress to act by withdrawing all federal funding from ACORN.  Eventually, the weight of the scandal forced the organization to disband and reorganize.

Or what about the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota in 2008 that gave Al Franken victory over then Sen. Norm Coleman?  It was later discovered that 1,099 felons voted illegally in this election “won,” supposedly, by Al Franken, by 312 votes.

Another controversial election was in 1984 in Indiana’s 8th district. The election battle was so tight between Rep. Frank McCloskey (D-IN) and Republican-challenger Rick McIntyre that the results were decided upon in Congress.

After a recount of votes by Indiana’s Secretary of State that ruled McIntyre the winner, the Democratic-controlled House refused to seat either candidate until it conducted its own investigation. With a task force leading the investigation composed of two Democrats and one Republican, McCloskey took his seat in the House where he was claimed the winner by only four votes.

Republicans temporarily left the House Chamber in protest.

In another instance, during the 1996 Congressional elections, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) came under fire of Republicans as she took her place in the House replacing former incumbent Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-CA) in California’s 46th district.

House sources to this day say former Rep. Dornan’s seat was stolen from him.

The House Oversight Committee, then led by Republicans, launched an investigation into the race and found that non-U.S. citizens voted in the election, possibly attributing to Rep. Sanchez’s lead over Dornan.

Voter fraud doesn’t take political sides.  During 1993 New Jersey gubernatorial race, Edward Rollins funneled about $500,000 from the state Republican Party to black ministers to urge their congregations to stay home and not vote.  Likewise, some of this money also went to Democratic political workers to who were paid to stay home.  Republican Candidate Christine Todd Whitman won by a narrow victory over New Jersey Gov. Jim Florio.

To further prevent such happenings some states have voter ID laws, which force voters to show a valid government-issued ID before casting their vote.

Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Florida, South Dakota, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Hawaii and Georgia all have voter ID laws.  Other states like Mississippi, Wisconsin, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina and Pennsylvania have voter ID laws that are still awaiting clearance of the Voting Rights Act or are held up in court.

Even United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places in this upcoming election.

The Hill reports that these monitors will be “looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups.”

Though the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has monitored elections in the U.S. since 2002, it causes alarm for some conservative groups.

Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president of True the Vote, a conservative-leaning group seeking to crack down on election fraud, told the The Hill, “These activist groups sought assistance not from American sources, but from the United Nations.  The United Nations has no jurisdiction over American elections.”

To ensure its presence is known, True the Vote plans to send out hundreds of thousands of volunteers at polling stations to monitor election fraud.

“We may surpass a million volunteers or fall short, it will be hard to know,” Engelbrecht told The Hill. “But we’re very excited about the level of enthusiasm, the number of volunteers, and the fact that we had a positive impact in bringing awareness to this important issue, of election integrity.”

Many other groups of various political leanings plan to do the same.

It is quite clear that Americans are paying attention to this election.  Much hangs in the balance for both sides of the political aisle.

But voter fraud, either by using the deceased, illegal or unqualified only damages one of the most important privileges to this nation’s democracy.

“Voting in this country is one of our most valuable honors and rights as U.S. citizens,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “If people lose trust in the voting system then our entire democracy and the framework of our government is lost.”

Though there is much at stake in this 2012 election, may a history of voter fraud not repeat itself.

Instead, may this election aim for the integrity of the voting process.  In the words of Samuel Adams: “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual — or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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