Mistakes happen. Except, Democrats would have us believe, when it comes to elections. Oh sure, they will agree that politics is a bare-knuckle blood sport, that turns otherwise decent people into nasty hypocrites who will do just about anything to get an edge.
And they won’t deny that our election officials aren’t exactly the best and brightest, and that many of the systems in place are dangerously antiquated.
And yet, somehow, they argue, when the time comes to vote, even the nastiest partisans who see everything riding on the result, turn into Jesus. Miraculously, this flawed system becomes a model of honest efficiency free from manipulation or mistake.
I am not suggesting that Gov. Pat McCrory got jobbed out of the election. But fair-minded people should admit that there are enough legitimate questions about the integrity of our elections here in North Carolina and around the country that reform should be the first order of business at the local and federal level.
Despite Democrat claims, we don’t know the extent of voter fraud because our leaders lack the means or will to investigate it. You can’t find what you aren’t looking for.
We do know that our voter rolls make Swiss cheese look airtight. A 2012 study by the Pew Center on the States concluded that one in eight voter registrations in America – about 24 million – are no longer valid or accurate. These included 1.8 million people who are dead and another 2.8 million who are registered in two or more states.
There is little evidence that partisans assumed their identities – in part because such investigations are rare. A 2013 operation by agents from New York City’s Department of Investigation, however, faced almost zero challenge when they cast 61 votes in the names of deceased or ineligible voters. Instead of reforming the system, the city’s Board of Elections referred the investigators for prosecution.
Even Pollyanna might conclude that voter impersonation is a tempting, low-risk target for activists.
Let’s clean up the rolls.
A 2014 study by scholars at Old Dominion University and George Mason University reported that 15.6 percent of non-citizens said they were registered to vote. They also concluded that 6.4 percent of America’s non-citizens voted in the 2008 election. Because no one is thoroughly investigating this phenomenon, the authors added the caveat that the number of non-citizens who voted nationwide ranged “from just over 38,000 at the very minimum to nearly 2.8 million at the maximum.”
Demographic data – and the liberal drumbeat that voter fraud is a fantasy - strongly suggest that Democrats are far more likely to benefit from these weaknesses. This explains the conservative writer John Fund’s observation that “the Obama administration hasn’t filed a single lawsuit in eight years demanding that counties clean up their voter rolls, as they are required to do by the federal motor voter law.”
Let’s require proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Of course, the elephant in the room for North Carolina voters is the GOP’s successful efforts to marginalize Democrat votes.
The jury is still out on whether their election “reforms,” including limits on early voting, made a difference. But there is no doubt that these elected leaders have put their party before the people while falsely claiming to stand on principle.
Indeed, the GOP’s hyper-aggressive gerrymandering efforts have made a mockery of our democracy. They have not fairly earned the super majorities they enjoy in the state House and Senate. It is sad that we need court orders to force fairer elections.
After Cooper is sworn in, Republicans should work with him and other Democrats to develop a less partisan method for drawing maps.
We know the way. What’s required is the will to achieve it – and the humble recognition that someday Democrats will be drawing the maps.
Free, fair and honest elections are a hallmark of our democracy. We owe it to our state our nation and our founding ideals to put aside our partisan wishes and address these problems as we strive to build a more perfect union.
Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at jpederzane@ jpederzane.com.