We can all agree that the 2020 presidential election has been one of the most chaotic in America’s history. No matter the eventual outcome, allegations of widespread election fraud and voting irregularities have exposed the cracks in our election system and fundamentally undermined public confidence in our vote and the very foundations of our democracy.
Such a turbulent election highlights that trusting in our democratic process is just as important as having the right to vote. This November, millions of Americans, myself included, lost faith in the integrity of our system. Our voices were silenced, our ballots left uncounted or unverified, and we were disenfranchised as fraud and ballot harvesting canceled out our own votes. Left uninvestigated and unchecked, these allegations of fraud serve only to divide our nation further and weaken the legitimacy of our government. Regardless of party affiliation, elected officials have an obligation to prevent fraud in our elections and ensure that the president is chosen freely and fairly.
Unfortunately, our election system is riddled with inadequacies. Some of the most egregious examples include the casting of ballots by individuals long known to be dead. For instance, as the vital battleground state of Michigan counted its ballots, stories circulated that a 118-year-old man named William Bradley cast a vote for Joe Biden. Likewise, investigators in South Florida exposed a plot to register deceased individuals as Democratic voters. Thanks to the quick action of Florida officials and checks put in place by Governor Ron DeSantis, these mail-in ballots were not illegally cast.
While the case of William Bradley has been found to be a clerical error, and the fraud in Florida was prevented, the question remains why this was ever an issue in the first place. The ease with which someone can steal the ballot of a deceased person and cast an illegitimate vote should disturb, alarm, and outrage every American, especially given such a simple solution to the problem exists.
This is why I authored and introduced the You Must Be Alive To Vote Act of 2020, H.R. 8830. This bill ties federal education and transportation funding to a requirement that localities and states compare their voter rolls annually against the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) death records and purge any names of people found to be deceased. Current federal law requires states to make only a “reasonable effort” to remove the names of ineligible individuals and does not require yearly certification.
The American people deserve an honest election. But for our democracy to work, we must also believe that our system is fair and that our votes are secure. We live in an age of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and spacecraft that will soon land humans on the surface of Mars. We ought to expect when a ballot is cast by someone born over one hundred years ago that it sets off alarm bells. We ought to expect better from our election officials, who should be raising those red flags. And, lastly, we ought to expect better from our nation’s leaders, who have left these flaws uncorrected for too long. The You Must Be Alive To Vote Act not only ensures a more trustworthy election; it demonstrates to each and every voter that their voice counts in an impartial and just process.