It is an article of faith on the Left that voter fraud does not exist beyond the imaginations of racist right-wingers, hellbent on imposing "unconstitutional" voter ID laws fashioned to "suppress" minority turnout in elections. These objections are race-baiting nonsense; they're unsupported by both empirical evidence and Supreme Court precedent. The high court upheld Indiana's law in a 6-3 decision in 2008. The ruling was authored by uber-liberal Justice John Paul Stevens. And after Georgia implemented its own law in 2007 (which survived a legal challenge), minority voter participation increasedin the next two election cycles. ABC News has called voter fraud a "rare but real" phenomenon, evidenced by a number of relatively high-profile convictions in recent years. Congress defunded the left-wing group ACORN (for whom Barack Obama once organized) over widespread voter registration fraud and other outrages. The watchdog group True the Vote -- whose founder's businesses and family have been harassed by the IRS and other federal agencies -- documents voter fraud prosecutions in 46 states since 2000. Which brings us to a report that aired earlier this month on NBC's local affiliate in Ft. Myers, Florida. WBBH-TV reporter Andy Pierrotti managed to track down dozens of local residents who were (a) both non-US citizens and (b) registered to vote in the swing state. Many of them had illegally voted in recent elections. Here's the full report, followed by some analysis:
"We don't know how widespread this problem is because elections offices don't keep track of where non-citizens live," Pierrotti reports, "So we decided to do something that they'd never tried to do before: We found them on our own." The investigation began by examining state forms on which residents had declined jury duty by checking a box indicating that they weren't US citizens, and were therefore ineligible to serve. Pierrotti then cross-referenced those results with local voter rolls, identifying at least 94 people who were registered to vote in the state of Florida. Next, he visited some of these people at their homes, where they admitted that they weren't citizens and professed ignorance as to how they were registered to vote in the first place. But voting records confirmed that they'd exercised their "right" to vote that, as non-citizens, they do not actually possess. The NBC 2 team interviewed a number of these illegal voters on camera, including a Jamaican national who simply attested that he was a US citizen on a voter registration form, and -- voila! -- he joined the American electorate. It was a felony, but it was that easy. And if a news crew hadn't connected the dots, no one would have ever known. This passage in the report is crucial:
REPORTER: County supervisors of elections tell me they have no way to verify citizenship. Under the 1992 "Motor Voter" law, they're not required to ask for proof.
HARRINGTON: We have no policing authority. We don't have any way of bouncing that information off of any other database.
REPORTER: The only way supervisors of elections can investigate voter fraud is if they get a tip, so that's what our list became.
HARRINGTON: It could be very serious. It could change the whole complexion of an election.
Here's the problem: This handful of wrongs are now being looked at and dealt with, but it took an enterprising and creative journalist to uncover them. These are 94 cases he uncovered in his own backyard alone, using just one narrow method. How many people in this country are registered to vote, and actually do vote, who are not US citizens? We don't know. It is lunacy that election supervisors "have no way to verify citizenship" in many places, even at the point of registration. It's further lunacy that we would not require every potential voter to produce valid proof of citizenship before casting a ballot, from coast to coast. These steps are so basic, so fundamentally fair, and so rudimentary that it's difficult to accept that an entire political party is dead-set against these voter integrity efforts for reasons that are not nefarious. Only US citizens are allowed to participate in US elections under the law. Citizens who don't have proper identification ought to be able to obtain them quickly and easily. That's the reasonable recourse for the "suppression" non-problem. But every single person who wants to vote should prove that they're doing so legally. That's not racism; that's painfully basic common sense. Oh, and it's overwhelmingly supported by Americans of all political stripes.
Parting thought: A quick calculation, as a point of reference. This local reporter found 94 illegally registered voters in one small region using one narrow verification method. If you extrapolate his number over Florida's 67 counties, that's nearly 6,300 people. In 2000, the United States Presidency was determined by 537 Florida votes.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography