An Oct. 7, 2020, report published in U.S. News and World Report noted that “the United States had the second-lowest integrity score among liberal democracies for elections between 2012 and 2018.”
The article goes on to say that American election integrity rates 57th compared to other nations around the world.
Under the Constitution, state legislatures have total control over the management of elections in their states. And states are waking up to their responsibilities. The Georgia State Election Board has referred 35 cases of voter fraud to law enforcement officials. Arizona is still conducting a forensic audit of Dominion voting machines. And the Michigan legislature passed a bill increasing punishments for election fraud – although that bill was vetoed by their Democrat governor.
Democrats in Congress must be desperate to halt that kind of supervisory review by states of election integrity because they have introduced HR 1, misleadingly called the “For the People Act.” It could be more accurately called the “For the Fraud Act.” The bill would impose penalties of up to five years in jail and a $100,000 fine against anyone who attempts to “mislead” or “impede” voters in the 60 days leading up to an election.
The language in HR 1 regarding “misleading” voters is almost identical to the language some of the on-line and mainstream news outlets used to justify censoring the conservative side of issues. This was their excuse for hiding, during the run up to the November election, information about the indiscretions and illegal actions of President Joe Biden’s family members. These corporations called those conservative views “misinformation” and effectively censored Americans’ First Amendment rights of free speech as well as the right to know the truth about those who run for public office.
The word “impede” could be used to attack anyone who questioned whether a prospective voter was a citizen, was of age, lived in the district or was otherwise eligible to vote. Instead of being placed in “Facebook jail,” people who question the legality of a voter could actually go to real jail. The damage to our nation’s voter integrity could be incalculable. HR 1 would perpetuate the extreme weakening of voter integrity laws that came about because of the COVID-19 quarantine.
HR 1 would allow candidates to siphon off campaign funds for personal use. They could pay personal bills, give money to family members and pay their own businesses for doing “election-related work” whether it had anything to do with the campaign or not. This could lead greedy politicians to do almost anything to stay in office and keep the “golden eggs” coming.
As noted earlier, several states have taken positive steps toward improving voter integrity. Virginia is required by statute (Section 24.2-671 of the Virginia Code) to conduct “a post-election risk-limiting audit annually of ballot scanner machines in use in the Commonwealth.” This is done specifically “to study the accuracy of ballot scanner machines.”
The audit proposed this year in Virginia by the State Board of Elections calls for 1,400 ballots – out of the millions cast in November – to be audited. Granted that an audit can use a statistical sample to approximate the total without recounting every ballot, but I have done enough work in statistics and research design over the years to recognize that 1,400 ballots is a pathetically small sample to check.
My concerns are likewise shared by State Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore Steve Newman, House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, House Republican Caucus Chair Kathy Byron and House Republican Whip James Leftwich, Jr. These Republican leaders also note, and rightly so, that the language of the code clearly states that “the audit is intended to test the particular ballot scanner machines in each locality, not simply test the accuracy of the statewide results in a single election contest.” The audit plan presented by the State Board of Elections does not meet the requirements of the Virginia Code, but that doesn’t stop the SBE from continuing with their missteps.
Voter integrity is under absolute attack in America at all levels of government. If citizens want their votes to mean anything, we must put a stop to these attacks on the keystone of our fundamental right to govern ourselves – the foundational principle of free and honest elections.
Steve “Doc” Troxel, who lives in Lynchburg, is a columnist for The News Virginian. He is a retired university professor who writes a weekly email on political issues. To subscribe to his email, contact him at Doc@VoteDocTroxel.com. His column is published every other Monday.