By Frank Vernuccio
Originally posted in the New York Analysis of Policy & Government newsletter
The key issue of this year’s presidential contest may not be who the candidates are, the weak economy, or the hazardous condition of America’s national security. Increasingly, it appears that the integrity of the election process itself may be the most contentious topic to arise in the 2016 race.
Recently, as reported in the Free Beacon, Ann Ravel, the former chair and current member of the Federal Election Commission stated (at a conference in Canada, interestingly enough) that the:
United States political system benefits wealthy white men (and) criticized the system by saying is set up in such a way that makes it difficult for women and minorities to succeed.
FEC member Ravel’s comments are not isolated words. They are part of an overall strategy to create a smokescreen for attempts to alter election results through a combination of election day antics, registration fraud, and opposition to voter ID. Commissioner Ravel’s comments are designed to give cover to a bevy of approaches that seek to overcome the advantage Republicans have demonstrated in recent elections, and that the GOP is expected to have in response to anger over the dismal results of the Obama Administration’s policies at home and abroad, as well as (if Hillary is the candidate) dismay over rampant ethical issues or (if Sanders is the candidate) a rejection of a blatant socialist message.
Many factors in illegal voting and registration are in play, particularly with the increase in illegal immigration, allowing noncitizens to obtain driver’s licenses and “motor voter” rules in many states that offer voter registration when applying for a license.
The NOLO legal website notes:
Due to the Motor Vehicle Act of 1993 (also known as the ‘Motor Voter Act’), states are required to provide people with the opportunity to register to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s licenses. However, while a minority of states ask for proof of citizenship at the time of voter registration, employees in most states may not inquire about citizenship status before asking noncitizens if they desire to register to vote … some noncitizens are misinformed about their eligibility to vote. For example, a campaign worker may tell you that permanent residents (green card holders) may register to vote, even when they are not eligible, or a canvasser may knock on your door to ask you to register and give you incorrect information.
Legitimate questions continue to go unanswered. Some proficiency in English is required for citizenship, but some states print ballots in numerous languages. Why?
Dozens of lawsuits have been filed by the Obama Justice Department, the Democrat Party, the Clinton campaign, and various other groups … Their primary and continuing objective has been to convince the electorate that there is no voter fraud, an objective with which they have had moderate success. To understand the magnitude of this effort, perform a Google exact-match search for the phrase ‘voter fraud is a myth.’ Google has 3,940 articles in their index that use that exact phrase. What are the odds? That is a great deal of content with the exact same phrase and message.
Their secondary goal has been to convince voters that voting rules of any kind constitute Republican voter suppression … Again looking at search trends, in the last eight years, ‘Republican voter suppression’ produces 11,500 exact-match Google search results and ‘GOP voter suppression’ produces 15,100 exact-match search results. Their most aggressive efforts are dedicated to opposing maintenance of voter registration rolls and opposing voter ID laws. These initiatives pose a very real threat to successful voter fraud. Democrats combine media bombardment with a mind boggling assortment of frivolous lawsuits to oppose voter ID laws.
In a 2015 study that is currently under review, Lindsay Nielson—a political scientist at the University of San Diego—parses the effects of stricter voter ID laws on the voting patterns of the young, the elderly, the poor, and racial minorities [in general elections]. … Nielson finds that “there is little evidence that racial minorities are less likely than whites to vote when states institute voter identification requirements.” … There is also “no statistically significant gap in estimated turnout [between high-income and low-income voter] when the identification law becomes stricter.”
The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 2008 upholding of the constitutionality of Indiana’s voter identification law, stated that obvious examples of voter fraud exist throughout U.S, history. The Heritage Foundation notes that the “Nonpartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, found that our ‘electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.”