ELECTIONS

Missouri Secretary of State: Yes, voter fraud is a real threat

The Supreme Court's decision Monday not to hear an appeal regarding the North Carolina voter ID law has jubilant critics of the law proclaiming victory. Yet vote fraud is still a problem in our country.

Since the November election, Hillary Clinton and her allies have offered numerous excuses as to why she lost her bid for president. In the six months since Americans cast their votes, Clinton and her team have blamed Russia, James Comey, and Wikileaks for her defeat in the polls. And now they are adding voter photo ID laws to the list of culprits.

Why? Because photo voter ID laws, she and other critics claim, prohibit eligible voters from voting. They are unwilling to admit the truth about this common sense reform and its intention to protect eligible voters’ right to vote and to vote only once.

In Missouri, for example, our new photo voter ID law (which 63 percent of Missourians supported in November) includes a provision requiring the government to provide individuals who do not have any form of photo ID with a free government-issued non-drivers license ID.   The law also directs my office to assist these individuals in securing the necessary supporting documents that are required to obtain such an ID. These provisions were included in Missouri’s new statute to ensure the law not only prohibits ineligible voters from committing vote fraud but also guarantees all eligible voters their opportunity to vote.

The bottom line: If you’re an eligible registered Missouri voter, you can vote, but only once.

Critics of photo voter ID laws additionally and routinely claim that vote fraud does not exist and swiftly dismiss documented cases of such fraud as irrelevant. It’s hard to explain this thinking, especially when, in North Carolina, more than five hundred illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, and in Kansas, nine individuals were convicted of voting in multiple states. What do the critics have to say about these documented cases of vote fraud? They say they’re insignificant.

I strongly disagree.

In Missouri, during a 2010 Democratic primary, one of our state representatives won his race by one vote. But as it was later discovered, three members of his family pled guilty to charges of vote fraud. Those three “insignificant” votes swung an entire election and denied his opponent a fair race. I ask photo voter ID critics to explain the insignificance of such a case.

The disappointing reality is that as long as we have elections, people will try to cheat. Yet, I believe in our election system and verifying voters are who they say they are is the simplest and most effective way to prevent vote fraud. More than 30 other states agree, as they have their own versions of voter ID laws.  

Few laws in the United States have endured as much political and legal scrutiny as voter ID laws. These statutes were drafted with extraordinary deference to opponents, containing numerous accommodations to ensure that no eligible registered voter is disenfranchised. In addition, they have been litigated in nearly every state where enacted, and time and again, these common sense photo voter ID laws have been upheld in both state and federal courts.

This past week, President Trump appointed a commission to investigate fraud and provide a national perspective on voting issues and election integrity. As a state election authority, I have been fighting to protect our state's elections from fraud. It is refreshing to finally have a federal administration that will partner with us on election integrity issues, not stand in the way of common sense reforms.

I commend the appointment of a voter integrity commission and look forward to its recommendations. And hopefully, the commission findings will finally inform Hillary Clinton that the will of the American people is the reason for her loss, not common sense voter ID laws.

Jay Ashcroft is the Missouri Secretary of State.