Ensuring the security of the American election process is a worthy goal for the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. As the Supreme Court said in 2008 when it upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, the U.S. has a long and well-documented history of election fraud, and fraud could make the difference in a close election.
The “honor” system we have for voter registration and voting is unreliable. The Heritage Foundation maintains a database of almost 1,100 proven cases of election fraud. Millions of deceased individuals remain registered. Others are registered in multiple states.
Many of these are administrative errors, but some involve fraud. How big is that problem and what steps should states take? We don’t know, because there hasn’t been any comprehensive study of these issues.
But we certainly have indications of the extent of the problem. A recent report from the Government Accountability Institute, comparing voter registration lists and voter histories in just 21 states, found almost 8,500 individuals who illegally voted in more than one state in the 2016 election. GAI estimated as many at 45,000 individuals in all 50 states may have voted more than once.
Another recent report from the Public Interest Legal Foundation found more than 5,500 non-citizens who had been removed from voter registration rolls in Virginia. They had cast almost 7,500 ballots in a state in which two attorney general races within the past 12 years were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes. There is other evidence that non-citizens are illegally registering and voting in other parts of the country.
At its first meeting, the commission decided it would take a comprehensive look at a host of concerns, including outdated voting equipment, cybersecurity and the high disenfranchisement of our overseas military voters. The aim is to improve the election process for all voters. Who could possibly oppose such a goal?
This piece originally appeared in USA Today