The Trump administration wants to check up on voter fraud possibilities in the United States, and the states have talked about invasions of privacy, which is nonsense, have insisted there is no fraud, which is nonsense, and Democrats have snarled about suppressing votes, which is nonsense.
Voter fraud, of course, is usually to the Democrats’ advantage, and they just might be more concerned about making it hard to cheat than making it hard to vote. But let’s let the facts speak for themselves after first conceding that, yes, President Donald Trump has made outlandish claims about the 2016 election. He said he would have won the popular vote if not for illegal voting, and that’s hooey.
But in forming a bipartisan commission through executive order, he dropped that prattle and focused on the dangers intimated, for instance, by all the registered voters who happen to be dead (1.8 million) and those registered in more than one state (2.8 million). In his usual verbally confused way, Trump said that dead voters were voting. What he obviously meant was that perfectly alive people could use names of the deceased to uphold the machine-politics principle of one grave, one vote.
States say they are up-and-at-’em on maintaining accurate registration rolls and keeping ineligibles away from the ballot box. But let somebody get out there and check around, such as the Pew Research Center, and you find out differently, as in its providing the numbers above. Despite obligations to make states do better on some scores, the Obama administration opted for nap time, and don’t fall for the line that there’s no mass manipulation and hence no worry.
First off, there is definitely the possibility of widespread fraud and then there is an actuality: It does not take a lot of fraudulent votes to change close election outcomes. It verifiably happens. That’s one reason at least some states have developed tougher standards, such as voter IDs that are no big deal to get despite contrary claims that democracy is thus impeded. The argument is overridden by the simple truth that most states implementing new ID laws see more voting.
So far in this relatively short century, it might be added, there have been at least 1,071 voting fraud cases in 47 states, according to the Heritage Foundation, which added that resulting criminal convictions were 938. So here came the questioning, deterrent-minded Trump commission accompanied by trepidation as numerous states initially insisted they would not cooperate.
As a matter of privacy, many said, they would not turn over such requests as voters’ party affiliations, addresses, names and birth dates, but get this: The letter sent to them clearly asked that they provide the information only if it “is publicly available under the laws of your state,” which it mostly is.
Not a few Democrats have accused Trump of devious ends, but they more likely reside in the resistance to research. For instance, I join a fellow columnist, Deroy Murdock, in wondering why Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia vetoed a bill calling for an investigation of more registered than eligible voters in voting districts. His explanation of how hard and unfair that might be did not cause me to say, “Oh, now I get it.”
In our current system, just maybe there has been a lot more fraud than some states have figured out or want to figure out and it is known that when it comes to illegal immigrants, for instance, they like voting Democratic, although fraud can go either way. There are three highly reputable Democrats on the Trump commission and they certainly won’t be out to make an anti-Democratic point. They will likely want to find out how we can make our system more secure from forces here and abroad.
The people who don’t leave us a lot to think about.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.