President Trump warned on Twitter last week that law enforcement would be looking for “voter fraud” in the midterm elections. Many journalists quickly responded – as they always do – by dismissing the very existence of voter fraud.
CNN’s Jim Acosta tweeted “voter fraud in this country is actually very rare.”
Glenn Thrush of The New York Times claimed: “there is essentially no voter fraud in this country.” He instead asked, "Will the (Justice Department) Civil Rights division prevent/investigate a real threat-voter suppression?"
Journalists have credulously repeated unsupported, patronizing claims that in Georgia and other states, voter registration and absentee ballot laws somehow suppress minority votes.
The preference for opinion journalism over real reporting prompted Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame to tell a CNN summit last Monday, “We need to be doing stories that really look at whether or not there is widespread voter fraud…. we still need to be doing that basic aspect of the reporting.”
David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report said there are “valid concerns about the restrictive impact of new voting laws and voters improperly removed from rolls, but there's also a lot of outrage-stoking and sloppy journalism in this realm that are counterproductive to fixing real problems.”
For example, to improve the accuracy of Georgia’s records, state legislators last year required that information on a voter registration application match a “driver’s license, state ID card or Social Security record.” Inconsistencies can cause a voter’s registration to be flagged as “pending” while the discrepancy is investigated.
Brian Kemp, the GOP candidate for governor and current secretary of state in Georgia, is being accused of “voter suppression” because of this law. But a “pending” status does not prevent anyone from voting as long as he or she has a government ID that substantially matches the registration application. In any event, every voter can cast a provisional ballot that will be counted once the registration information is verified.
As the secretary of state told radio host Erick Erickson, there are 75,000 pending voters among a record total of 7 million registered in the state. Of these, 9,224 are minors under 18; 2,935 used a fake address; 3,393 are not citizens, and 5,842 were already registered.
Of the remaining applications, 75 percent submitted erroneous Social Security information. Almost a quarter of those “sloppy forms” came from a registration effort by the New Georgia Project, a group founded in 2014 by Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor.
Abrams seems unconcerned about voter integrity, telling a crowd in Jonesboro that the "blue wave" would include "those who are documented and undocumented.” She later claimed she didn’t mean to imply noncitizens should actually vote.
While journalists have chased down the Georgia rabbit hole, law enforcement and citizen watchdog groups have uncovered serious voter fraud problems that have received almost no national attention.
Court filings by the Texas attorney general reveal that funding for a voter fraud ring came from the former head of the Texas Democratic Party in Fort Worth.
Leticia Sanchez and three other vote “harvesters” have been indicted for allegedly submitting fraudulent absentee ballot applications and then either intercepting the ballots in mailboxes or improperly “assisting” elderly voters in filling out their ballots.
Separately, the Texas attorney general has announced he’s investigating mailers sent to non-citizens by the state Democratic Party asking them to register using applications that already had the box asking about citizenship checked ‘Yes.’”
California was recently forced to admit that it had mistakenly registered almost 25,000 ineligible voters. The state didn’t even realize it was registering noncitizens until a Canadian who is a permanent resident of the U.S. contacted The Los Angeles Times to say he had been improperly registered under the state’s new automatic voter registration system.
In a letter calling for an audit, Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla admitted that such “persistent errors” will “undermine public confidence.”
Over a 20-year-period, Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles officials have allowed thousands of noncitizens to register to vote and many have actually voted.
After state officials withheld documents from the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) and even state legislators with oversight authority detailing this mess, the PILF sued to enforce a federal disclosure law. After months of litigation, state election officials are still concealing the information that no one in the media seems interested in uncovering.
PILF found that Michigan lacks a system to keep false citizenship claims from being accepted during voter registration. The group’s preliminary study of the Detroit metro area found at least 1,444 non-citizens have been registered to vote in recent years.
PILF has also found thousands of non-citizens – many of whom have voted – on voter rolls in other jurisdictions, including New Jersey, Illinois and numerous sanctuary cities.
In states around the U.S., major problems with our voter registration systems have been tolerated for years. A 2012 report by the Pew Center on the States found that more than 1.8 million dead people were registered to vote and 2.75 million people were registered in more than one state.
The Pew report found that 24 million registrations were either invalid or inaccurate, making the registration systems vulnerable to fraud. Despite this abysmal record, the Justice Department under President Obama decided it wouldn’t take any action to enforce a federal law that requires states to maintain accurate voter rolls by regularly removing ineligible voters
When the 2002 Help America Vote Act passed Congress with bipartisan support in the aftermath of the 2000 election debacle in Florida, it’s co-author – Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut – declared the goal of our laws should be to “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Indeed, there is no reason why we can’t pursue both goals. But the media aren’t doing our democracy any favors by summarily dismissing the existence of voter fraud – like the almost 1,200 proven cases in the Heritage Foundation’s election fraud database – while questioning the very need for accurate voter rolls.
John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky are coauthors of “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk”