All Citizens Have a Stake in the Integrity of Elections
What's the dirty little secret of the 2012 election? Despite a disturbing resistance by our federal government to acknowledge the problem, election fraud is all over the map.
Many Americans would be shocked to know that 46 states have prosecuted and/or convicted persons for election fraud in the last decade. Four party officials in Indiana, a sheriff in West Virginia, 38 Virginians netted in a state police investigation, a political operative in Maryland - all have been prosecuted for voter fraud in just the last few weeks. In fact, columnist Thomas Sowell recently opined that election fraud is "on a scale that can swing not only local but national elections, including the 2012 elections."
Our republic flourishes when citizens are confident their vote is secure, fair and free. Conversely, election fraud undermines our belief that our elected leaders govern with our consent. Every American - regardless of race, creed or political inclination - has an interest in ensuring our elections are both free and fair.
Such is the conviction that led to the birth of a modern-day election integrity movement, of which our nonprofit and nonpartisan group, True the Vote, is a leading voice. This past weekend, we held our second national summit, bringing together some of the nation's foremost election experts with some 350 leading activists from more than 30 states to discuss the scope of election fraud and what we can collectively do to protect one of our most basic rights as Americans.
As the media reported, our national summit was a bipartisan affair. Featured speakers included former Congressman Artur Davis, D-Ala., who seconded Barack Obama's nomination for president four years ago.
The conservatives at our gathering also sounded what the Houston Chronicle reported was a "determinedly nonpartisan" note. "We don't take a position on whether President Obama is re-elected," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. "We take a position on free and fair elections."
Several speakers rightly admonished the inactivity of Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Department of Justice bureaucrats, who continue to turn a blind eye to voter fraud. Just as bad, these same forces also oppose common sense reforms like photo ID voting laws, which require individuals to present a valid form of photo identification before casting their ballot.
If you follow the news on this issue, you know that Republican states like Texas and South Carolina have adopted Photo Voter ID measures. Less known or appreciated is the fact that at least one Democratic state, Rhode Island, is also following suit.
Additionally, polling consistently shows strong support for Photo ID laws. Last week, Rasmussen Reports showed that 73 percent of Americans approve of Photo ID laws - and in fact, states that have Photo ID in place are seeing increased turnout at the polls, including minority groups (according to data from Indiana and Georgia).
"Opposition to Photo ID laws is built on a lie," said former Congressman Davis. "Voting doesn't happen by snapping a finger. Where is this idea that if I have a right, I have no responsibilities?"
Another critical challenge is ensuring that we clean up our voting rolls as federal law dictates. Today, there are 16 counties here in Texas where the number of registered voters exceeds the number of adult, voting-age citizens (as of the 2010 census). Multiple states around the country face a similar problem.
To address these and other issues, True the Vote has developed an exportable program of training, technology and support to equip citizens with the tools they need to get involved in election processes; from working at the polls to advocating for common-sense election code improvements.
The good news is that citizens all across the country are waking up to the fundamental importance of election integrity - and more than that, they are getting involved. True the Vote is currently working with volunteers in all 50 states, and we are on track to recruit and train 1 million volunteers for the 2012 elections.
America is a nation of laws, and Americans want our government to enforce our election laws without prejudice or preference for political party. At a time when our nation is so sharply divided on a host of important issues, our national summit showed a new national consensus on election integrity can be forged - and the sooner, the better.
After all, if our elections are not truly fair, then none of us are truly free.
By Catherine Engelbrecht
Originally posted on Houston Chronicle
If you have questions about True the Vote or are interested in bringing True the Vote to your area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.