oliticians are playing a dangerous game with our election. The president’s potential illness now that he has been exposed to the novel coronavirus and has tested positive will only increase the chance of catastrophe. We should all be praying that the president has a mild illness and a fast recovery — not only out of compassion; it will be good for our democracy.
But we also need our elected officials, regardless of party, to stand up and ensure November’s election is secure and that voters in America have faith in the results.
Democrats and Republicans have been playing this game for years: Democrats accuse Republicans of voter suppression and Republicans accuse Democrats of lax voter security. There is always a kernel of truth in both complaints. The GOP governor of Texas is limiting ballot drop off boxes to one per-county – Harris County has 4.7 million residents. In New York City, the board of elections, led by a Democrat, had to reprint 100,000 ballots after the original were sent to voters with the wrong voter information on the “oath envelope.”
But that game has been taken to a new level. Trump has repeatedly claimed — beginning after he lost the national popular vote in 2016 — that Democrats are trying to steal the election via fraud. He continued that assault on our democracy during the first presidential debate. Voter fraud is when a ballot is cast that doesn’t represent an actual, eligible voter or it is cast by someone other than the voter it is said to represent. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and certainly no evidence of a vast conspiracy to steal the election.
There is evidence, however, of isolated fraud and isolated errors in ballot printing, ballot counting, and many incidents where ballots are being sent in the mail to people who no longer live at the address and even people who are deceased.
We cannot sweep those incidents under the rug, and we must address them directly with real solutions. It is a felony in Colorado to vote a ballot that is not yours — no one should be tempted to do so, and our state has a rigorous signature verification system, increasing the likelihood that anyone casting a ballot that isn’t theirs will get caught. The list of voters that will be sent ballots is kept clean by checking it against other databases — state and federal death records, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and others. Also, addresses on record for registered voters are checked.
No one is wrong to highlight the potential for abuse of our election system and to demand election officials tighten election security. That kind of constructive criticism will only improve American’s confidence in the outcome of the election. On the other hand, Trump’s words are a concrete threat to our democracy if voters believe them.
So, let’s look at what has been happening in Colorado. U.S. Rep. Ken Buck has raised concerns that a few of the hundreds of thousands of voter registration postcards sent by Secretary of State Jena Griswold went to noncitizens and deceased voters. These were not ballots. These were reminders to folks that they could register if they were eligible to do so under Colorado and federal law.
The concern from Buck, and other Republicans like former Secretary of State Scott Gessler, is that if those non-citizens or deceased voters are on a list of potentially eligible voters, they or someone else may be able to register, get a ballot in the mail and cast it fraudulently.
No one is alleging that the folks who got the postcards are on the voter rolls or that their attempt to register would be successful. But, if there is an error in the state’s driver’s license database showing that the people who received the postcards are in fact eligible voters when they are not, it could be a loophole allowing a non-citizen to register, get a ballot and vote. It’s worthy of scrutiny.
Again, there is no evidence of widespread fraud, and certainly no evidence that Griswold is conspiring to get ineligible voters registered. Buck writing a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation is an overreaction to the slim possibility of fraud we think this presents. But, keeping ineligible voters off the voter rolls is essential, and Griswold would do well to calm fears and look into these cases. — The Denver Post