Election integrity continues to be an important issue to citizens across the country, regardless of their political affiliation. While many politicians on the left continue to downplay the issue of election fraud to the dismay of their constituents, threats to free and fair elections continue at an alarming rate, as our newest batch of cases for The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database show.
But be forewarned: According to the May 3 issue of Washingtonian magazine citing one of us (Hans von Spakovsky), overseeing a “national tracking system that monitors election-fraud cases” is a “highly controversial tactic.”
Heritage’s Election Fraud Database contains 1,357 proven instances of election fraud, a number that is steadily rising although just a sampling. Each case emphasizes the need for election integrity.
Again, many on the left dismiss the issue of election fraud and are opposed to all commonsense efforts to improve the security and fairness of the election process, claiming fraud is a myth. Yet as the following cases show, it is hardly a myth.
All but one case in the most recent batch are about fraud committed during the 2020 general election.
These additions don’t include the 156 criminal referrals made by Florida election officials in the state’s nine largest counties in cases connected to the 2020 election. Local prosecutors so far have refused to investigate or prosecute those cases, as reported by the Public Interest Legal Foundation.
One of the cases added to Heritage’s database is that of Krista Connor of Arizona. Connor signed and submitted an absentee ballot in the name of her mother, who had died a month before the 2020 general election.
After being caught voting on behalf of her deceased mom, Connor pleaded guilty to one count of “attempting illegal voting.” She faces up to 18 months in prison and a substantial fine when she is sentenced later this month.
Connor’s case mirrors another one in Arizona. Tracey McKee, a registered Republican, was recently sentenced to two years of probation after casting an absentee ballot in the name of her mother, who also had died a month before the election.
Two cases out of Florida emphasize the need for states to work together to find individuals who are voting illegally in more than one state.
Jay Ketcik, a registered Republican and resident of The Villages, voted twice in the 2020 election. Ketcik voted in person in Florida and then voted again by absentee ballot in his home state of Michigan.
Fellow Villager Charles Barnes also voted twice in the 2020 election: in person in Florida and then by absentee ballot in his home state of Connecticut.
Barnes told the FBI that he voted in both Florida and Connecticut because “he wanted to vote twice and wanted to see if he could vote twice.”
Barnes and Ketcik were sentenced to 18 months in diversion programs. The charges against them will be expunged if they successfully fulfill the program terms. Both also were required to complete and pass a remedial course in civics education.
Cases such as these emphasize the need for states to improve procedures for maintaining the accuracy of their voter registration laws by working with other states and accessing federal databases such as the Social Security Master Death Index.
Barnes’ election fraud was discovered only after the registrar of voters in Milford, Connecticut, consulted ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center, an organization that compares member states’ voter registration lists, to discover the double voting. The election official reported the finding to the proper authorities and, in a rare occurrence, law enforcement took an interest in doing something about it.
Another case of duplicate voting, from New Hampshire, also demonstrates the need for states to cooperate to combat this problem.
Edward Amirault pleaded guilty to a class B felony after voting absentee in New Hampshire and then casting an in-person ballot in Massachusetts during the 2018 general election.
In addition to having his right to vote terminated in New Hampshire, Amirault was sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended for good behavior provided he doesn’t commit more crimes. Amirault also was fined and penalized $4,960 and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
Threats to free and fair elections will persist so long as states fail to act to improve their election processes. Heritage’s Election Integrity Scorecard, which analyzes how good (or how bad) each state’s election laws and procedures are, is a tool that may be used by legislators, state officials, and the public to improve the security of elections.
Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike deserve to have fairness and honesty in the electoral process.
With midterm elections fast approaching, it’s important for voters to know that their vote will count and not be diluted or canceled by fraudulent votes. Protecting the integrity of our elections is of fundamental importance in preserving our democratic republic, and states need to continue to prioritize improvements.
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal