By Dr. Thomas Patterson |
A recent cover of The Week magazine proclaimed “Undermining Democracy. The GOP’s blueprint for nullifying Democratic votes in 2024.”
The article was another installment of the concentrated effort on the Left to convince Americans that voter fraud is essentially nonexistent, just a hoax used by Republicans as an excuse to deny the franchise to underprivileged Americans.
But is it true? Are Republicans using strategies like restricting the number of weeks early voting is allowed, cleaning up outdated voter rolls and requiring voter ID simply to squelch minority votes?
The Week article didn’t describe one voter who had been even partially hindered from voting. Critics seldom do because such cases are devilishly hard to find.
Any limiting of access is illegal under federal law and the Department of Justice has a large and aggressive enforcement unit. Yet during the eight years of the Obama administration, just four cases were filed under the relevant voting rights section.
Moreover, a 2019 survey of turnout data from all 50 states concluded that voter ID laws, for example, “have no negative affect on registration or turnout“ for any race, gender, party or age group. The Census Bureau in 2012 reported that blacks nationally had a higher turnout rate than whites.
Mississippi had a higher percentage turnout of black voters than white, unlike Connecticut, New York or Delaware. Much reviled Georgia’s black turnout percentage was higher than New York’s in 2018 and 2020, all during times when Republicans were being loudly accused of voter suppression. They must be the most inept vote suppressors in history.
The Maricopa County 2020 audit was meant to clear up some of these issues of fraud versus suppression. It was never intended by its sponsors to overturn the election. So all the chortling by its detractors when that didn’t happen is their mistake.
Nevertheless, both sides felt vindicated. One thing for certain is that allegations that voter fraud doesn’t exist were again demolished. Voters voting in multiple counties, mail-in ballots from prior addresses, dead people voting, deleted files and duplicated ballots were all uncovered.
But the commission whiffed on the issue of bulk mail voting. The practice of sending unsolicited ballots by mail to millions of voters is by far the greatest potential threat to election integrity.
Unfortunately, they looked for evidence of mail fraud in the wrong place at the wrong time. The audit was of the accounting process and never really addressed how the ballots were generated in the first place.
Mail-in fraud has caused entire elections to be canceled and major schemes have been busted in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and other states. But any fraud discovered is likely only the tip of the iceberg. Fraud from bulk mail voting/ballot harvesting occurs out of sight and leaves few traces.
Unlike in-person voting, there is no ability to assure the vote is cast independently. Arizona’s sole safeguard has been the notoriously easy-to-game signature verification process with no ID required.
Normally, chain of custody violations are considered a major breach by election officials. Here, there is no chain of custody. What could go wrong?
There’s a reason that after Democrats discovered electoral gold in 2016, votes by mail more than doubled in 2020, and just 28% voted in person on election day. Yet as far back as 2005, the bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform advised that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”
Our sister democracies know that. 74% ban absentee voting entirely for citizens living in the country, 6% have very strict restrictions and another 15% require photo ID to obtain a mail ballot. France and Mexico banned mail-in voting after massive fraud and political intimidation were finally discovered.
America has a serious problem. Our elections do not have, and do not deserve, the confidence of a majority of Americans.
The overriding problem is not lack of access to the ballot. In fact, a plurality of voters believe it is too easy to vote.
It’s not stolen elections or miscounted ballots. It is intentionally flawed election laws that permit massive security leaks, raising the undeniable possibility of widespread cheating.
That, friends, is the true threat to democracy.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.