June 14, 2013 | Commentary on Elections
Editor's note: This commentary was coauthored by John Fund.
From Florida to Maryland to New York City, there has been quite a bit of election news recently involving fraud and the potential for fraud that shows the continuing vulnerabilities in our election process and illustrates the fact that there are those who are willing to take advantage of those weaknesses.
In Florida at the end of May, the chief of staff of Representative Joe Garcia (D., Fla.), Jeffrey Garcia (no relation to Representative Garcia), resigned after he was linked to a voter-fraud scheme that attempted to submit hundreds of fraudulent absentee ballots in the congressman’s 2012 congressional primary. Garcia won the primary and then defeated Republican incumbent David Rivera in the general election.
This is the same Jeff Garcia who worked for Representative Patrick Murphy (D., Fla.) when he defeated Representative Allen West by less than 3,000 votes in 2012. Search warrants were also executed at the homes of Representative Garcia’s communications director, Giancarlo Sopo, and his 2012 campaign manager, John Estes, in connection with this ongoing investigation.
The Florida congressman tried to provide some cover for his staffer when he claimed that the plot was a “well-intentioned attempt to maximize voter turnout” and that the absentee-ballot system is “prone to fraud.”
Officials say that over 2,500 fraudulent requests for absentee ballots were made from IP addresses (most of which were masked by foreign IP addresses) in Miami, which has quite a history of absentee-ballot fraud. Fortunately, none of the fraudulent absentee ballots were accepted by election officials because of their suspicious appearance.
In Maryland, an investigation by the Washington Times has found that as many as 13,000 former residents of the District of Columbia who moved to Prince George’s County, Maryland, remain registered in both locations — and dozens voted illegally “in both jurisdictions in the November presidential election.” Given that both the District and Prince George’s County are Democratic strongholds, it does not take much of a guess to figure out who those votes were cast for. According to the Times, one of those voters “acknowledged casting a ballot in both places,” while others “became hostile or fearful when questioned about whether they had voted twice.” Democrats said that “Prince George’s County residents using their former D.C. addresses to cast votes there is an open secret.” One local activist says “it happens a lot” and that people who move out of the District keep voting for years.
Calculating the total number of double votes is impossible because the District refuses to provide birth dates or full middle names of voters. So the paper focused on those names that were so unusual that they could be associated with only one individual. The list of Prince George’s County voters with unusual names that match those on voter rolls in D.C. is nearly 13,000, and those “who are listed as voting in both jurisdictions in the 2012 election is in the thousands.” This means that the number of individuals registered in both jurisdictions is probably much larger.
Of course, this is the same District of Columbia that has vigorously resisted requiring any form of voter ID and that is notorious for not cleaning up its voter rolls. James O’Keefe famously filmed a video in D.C. where one of his operatives (a young white man) was offered Eric Holder’s ballot in a local precinct.
By the way, the Washington Times report does not include the 20,000 dead voters who remain on the Maryland voter rolls, including 48 of apparently the “oldest living people in the world,” or the 270,000 voters who the U.S. Postal Service says don’t live at their registered addresses.
In New York, where the City has spent $95 million to modernize its election process with new electronic opt-scan voting machines, officials are now trying to redeploy its fleet of 1960s-era lever voting machines — a technology developed in the 1890s — for its mayoral election
Election officials claim to have had numerous problems with the new electronic machines, but their main complaint seems to be that the new machines — which provide an audit trail with paper ballots — require comparatively more time to count election results.
New York’s dinosaur-era lever machines are 900-pound hunks of metal the size of a refrigerator where voters flip toggle switches to choose candidates and then pull a lever to record their choices and cast their votes. The machines use internal mechanical counters, have no audit trail, and are so easy to manipulate that even Louisiana banned their Shoup lever machines. Louisiana state representative Emile “Peppi” Bruneau showed his fellow legislators how easy it was to steal an election. He opened up the back of a lever machine after removing the seal, advanced the counters to cast fraudulent ballots, and then closed and resealed the machine. All he used was a Q-Tip, a screwdriver, pliers, and a cigarette lighter. Bruneau manipulated “the vote total as easily as he might reset an alarm clock.”
The New York Board of Elections accuses the electronic-voting-machine company of misleading them, but the company fired back that the City refused to purchase high-speed voting machines and was bizarrely fixated on lever machines “like your kid’s doll that they don’t want to get rid of once they get past a certain age.”
The New York Senate has a bill that would permit lever machines for any non-federal vote, while the General Assembly would limit the use of the lever machines to this year’s primary and possible runoff elections. There is no report on whether precinct election officials will be asked to wear 1890s-style costumes to match the voting equipment they will apparently be using for the mayor’s race.
As if that weren’t bad enough, New York is also considering allowing illegal aliens to vote in local elections, diluting and cancelling the votes of citizens. The city council would in essence disenfranchise legitimate voters in favor of those who came here illegally and who have not made the commitment to our Constitution, our political system, and our traditions that legal immigrants who abided by the rule of law and became citizens have made.
— Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and John Fund is the national affairs columnist for National Review. They are the coauthors of Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk (Encounter Books 2012).
First appeared in National Review Online's "The Corner."