These are stunning incidents that impugn the credibility of the electoral process in our state.
Another case of voter fraud in Houston County, Alabama leads the Dothan Eagle to call for legislation to address the problem:
Last week, the mayor of a small Houston County town was arrested on charges of absentee voter fraud. Elbert Melton, 69, of Gordon, was charged with three counts, and was booked into the Houston County Jail. . . . Ironically, the three absentee ballots in question don’t change the outcome of the election, in which Melton, with 99 votes, defeated opponent Priscilla Wilson, who had 83 votes.
Voter fraud did change the outcome of a 2013 Dothan city election in which incumbent Dothan City Commissioner Amos Newsome edged out a challenger by just 14 votes – votes that turned out to be fraudulent.
Four of his campaign workers have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty of absentee voter fraud involving more than enough ballots to change the result of the election. However, Newsome has not been charged in the matter, and continues to serve on the Dothan City Commission.
These are stunning incidents that impugn the credibility of the electoral process in our state, and even the Secretary of State, John Merrill, has expressed frustration with the lack of statutory authority to ensure our election results are valid and enforceable.
“Photo identification is necessary in order to ensure legitimacy in our elections.”
Add West Virginia to the list of states considering commonsense legislation to make elections more secure.
HB 2781 requires photo voter identification, allows voters without an accepted photo ID to sign an affidavit and vote a provisional ballot that will be counted if the signature is verified by election officials, and ends the state’s automatic voter registration of driver’s license applicants.
Under this bill, voters will present one of the forms of ID to a poll clerk, and the clerk will verify that the name on the ID matches the name on the voter registration card.
Delegate Saira Blair, R-Berkeley, the bill’s lead sponsor, said the law would put West Virginia more in line with other states.
The bill includes exceptions for voters living in state licensed care facilities and those with religious objections to being photographed, as well as provisions for providing free photo voter ID cards.
HB 2781 also authorizes West Virginia’s Division of Motor Vehicles to share the U.S. citizenship status of voluntarily-registering license applicants with the Secretary of State, who will forward the information to county clerks to help keep non-citizens off the state’s voter rolls.
Remember all those headlines last month touting a study that “proved” voter ID laws are racist and suppress minority voter turnout? They were wrong:
A new study by professors from Yale, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania challenges the notion that voter ID laws disproportionately affect minorities.
The new study finds “no definitive relationship” between tough laws requiring voters to present identification and a dropoff in Hispanic, black, and other minority turnout.
The study comes as a response to another one, published and widely reported in January, that asserted states with voter ID laws drive down turnout on Election Day, particularly among Hispanics. That earlier study, conducted by professors from the University of San Diego and Bucknell University, often is cited by liberal opponents of voter ID laws.
How did the earlier work of Hajnal, Lajevardi, and Nielson get it so wrong? From the new study by Grimmer et al:
Here, we show that the results of this paper are a product of large data inaccuracies, that the evidence does not support the stated conclusion, and that model specifications produce highly variable results. When errors in the analysis are corrected, one can recover positive, negative, or null estimates of the effect of voter ID laws on turnout. Our findings underscore that no definitive relationship between strict voter ID laws and turnout can be established from the validated CCES data.
Rebecca Hammonds was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to 14 felony counts of fraudulently registering people to vote and forging signatures on voter registration forms while working for a left-wing group in Ohio.
Hammonds was a paid canvasser for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC), a liberal activist group that was active in registering voters in the southern part of the county during September and October 2015, when the voter registration fraud occurred. In October of that year, the county elections board director contacted the sheriff’s office after his staff began finding discrepancies in voter registration applications filed by OOC, including five submitted in the name of dead people.
Hammonds was originally charged with 35 felony counts but pleaded down to just 14. The judge declined her request for probation, “saying voter registration fraud is a serious crime that deserves some incarceration.”
Maintaining accurate voter rolls is a never-ending task “akin to doing laundry,” says U.S. Election Assistance Commission chairman Matthew Masterson. Conducting statutorily required voter list maintenance is also “an important part of protecting the integrity of our nation’s elections.”
Voter list maintenance is not a new concept born of recent controversies and allegations. In fact, the sustained list maintenance effort to improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls traces back to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), commonly referred to as the “motor voter” law. NVRA not only facilitates the ease of voter registration at motor vehicle offices and public assistance offices, but it also prescribes the process for updating and proper removal of outdated voter records via data shared between counties, across states, by departments of health and motor vehicle offices, the United States Postal Service and a variety of other data sources.
Masterson continues, “Nobody wants an accurate voting roll more than the officials who administer elections.” Some election officials, yes, but not all.
Multiple jurisdictions across the country have been successfully sued under the NVRA for failing to do the required dirty work of maintaining accurate voting rolls, including four Mississippi counties and two Texas counties. Hundreds more have more registered voters than citizen voting age-eligible population.
More on the Guam v. Davis decision that found Guam’s race-based “Native Inhabitants”-only voting scheme unconstitutional, via Hans von Spakovsky:
This decision has been a long time coming. The suit, filed by J. Christian Adams and the Center for Individual Rights in 2011, arose when Davis tried to register to vote on the plebiscite. His application was rejected and marked as “void” by the Guam Election Commission because he is white.
Guam, you see, banned residents from registering or voting unless they were Chamorro “natives,” which to the territorial government means people whose ancestors were original inhabitants of Guam. Chamorros constitute only about 36 percent of the island’s present population.
The race-based voting ban clearly violated the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, yet the Obama Justice Department refused to protect Davis or any of the other disenfranchised residents of the island. It neither filed suit against Guam nor intervened in support of the lawsuit filed by Adams and the Center for Individual Rights. Instead, it gave Guam $300,000 to help finance the plebiscite.
“The law is the law; (it) applies on Guam just like it applies everywhere.”
A victory for equal voting rights:
A federal judge on Wednesday struck down as unconstitutional a law that limited voting based on ancestry, finding that Guam’s plebiscite statute amounted to race-based discrimination.
In the case of Davis v. Guam, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood decided in favor of plaintiff Arnold “Dave” Davis, a non-native resident who challenged the law that would have allowed only native inhabitants of Guam to vote in a plebiscite to determine the island’s future political status.
Finding that the plebiscite statute violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the court issued an order granting the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and barring Guam from enforcing the plebiscite law’s race-based restrictions.
“The U.S. Constitution does not permit for the government to exclude otherwise qualified voters in participating in an election, where public issues are decided simply because those otherwise qualified voters do not have the correct ancestry or bloodline.”
Davis’ attorney J. Christian Adams, who formerly served in the U.S. Department of Justice Voting Section and took on Davis’ case after the DOJ declined to act, was happy with the outcome.
“It is a fantastic decision that vindicated voting rights for everybody on Guam,” Adams said. “It says that who your parents were, or grandparents were, has nothing to do with your right to vote and everybody is allowed to participate in the plebiscite.”
“The law is the law; (it) applies on Guam just like it applies everywhere” in the United States,” he said.
Keeping voter rolls clean isn’t just a good idea, it’s the law. So regularly removing from the registration rolls voters who have died or moved away is – or ought to be – standard practice for election officials.
West Virginia’s new Republican Secretary of State, Mac Warner, has already scrubbed 36,635 names off the rolls of people who have departed the state or this world.
Warner began working with the state’s 55 county clerks almost immediately upon taking office on Jan.16 and was able to report March 3 that outdated voter lists are being set right.
“Since I took office in January, West Virginia county clerks have canceled tens of thousands of outdated voter registrations,” Warner said in a statement. “I applaud the continued effort by the county clerks to ensure an all-encompassing voter registration list maintenance process ensuring an accurate and up-to-date voter file.”
Warner’s office noted that using updated technology and tools, elections experts have estimated that up to ten percent of the state’s voters, or more than 100,000 registered voters, may have changed residency or passed away and may need to be removed from current voter rolls. Those status updates include voters who have moved from their initial registered address, have died, or have duplicate registration records on file.
Everybody ought to be interested in enforcing the law.
Records show that aliens have illegally registered to vote (and voted) in Virginia. They were only caught by accident.
Yet Virginia’s Democrat governor, Terry McAuliffe, and the state’s Commissioner of Elections Edgardo Cortes, a McAuliffe appointee, aren’t interested in increasing transparency and accountability.
J. Christian Adams joined WMAL’s Mornings on the Mall with Brian Wilson to explain:
”We are trying to get to the bottom of how many aliens are on the rolls. Unfortunately, the Governor of Virginia and his state election director Cortes have been stonewalling and hiding the ball and forcing us to go and beat them in federal court, which we have done. They’re hiding information about alien voting. The public records show that Virginia counties have had to remove thousands of aliens from the rolls that they caught by accident. This isn’t even a program to find them. Not only have they caught them, they’ve been voting. We published the names of these people.”
“People say there’s no voter fraud. Read our report. We show you the names. . . . Some people mark on their forms no, I am not a citizen, and they’re still getting registered to vote in Virginia.”
“The Governor and election director have exactly the wrong attitude about this. People don’t want aliens on the rolls, they want government to do a good job and get them off. McAuliffe and Cortes are doing exactly the opposite. They’re hiding information, they’re giving instructions to local registrars to not reveal information. . . . This is exactly the wrong attitude. We know there’s aliens on the rolls. Everybody ought to be interested in enforcing the law.”
“The Governor of Virginia – in an election year – is doing everything he can to preserve vulnerabilities in the Virginia voting system.”
Listen to the entire interview here, starting at the 7:45 mark.
Opponents of voter ID and other commonsense election integrity reforms enacted by Wisconsin’s Republican-led Legislature didn’t fare well in federal court last week.
A skeptical Seventh Circuit panel was “harshly critical of a federal judge’s finding that Wisconsin’s voter ID law discriminates against black voters” and found “little direct evidence to support ruling the law unconstitutional.”
At oral arguments Friday morning, a Seventh Circuit panel asked virtually no questions of Wisconsin Chief Deputy Solicitor General Ryan Walsh, who argued that the state provides its citizens with the “most generous, voter-friendly system in the nation.”
But U.S. Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook grilled plaintiff One Wisconsin’s attorney Bruce Spiva.
“The Supreme Court has said that knowledge of disparate impact does not prove discriminatory intent,” Easterbrook said, expressing his doubt that the nonprofit carried its burden of proof.
Arguments against the state’s early voting rules didn’t go over any better with the panel.
[Easterbrook] said those challenging Wisconsin’s voting laws were contending that Democrats can expand voting rules to help their party at the polls but Republicans can’t tighten them to their advantage.
“That can’t be right,” he said during arguments in a pair of Wisconsin cases.
His colleagues on the panel — Judges Michael Kanne and Diane Sykes — showed they had just as many doubts about lower court rulings that struck down voting rules set by GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers.