Politics & Policy

The Left Is Undermining Confidence in Our Elections

Polling place at John Jay College in New York, 2012 (Reuters photo: Chip East)
Complaints that Trump has merely called for citizen monitors are remarkable.

In a recent speech in Michigan, Donald Trump irked liberals by asking his supporters to monitor and observe the electoral process to “make sure it’s on the up and up.” He explained:

You’ve been reading the same stories as I’ve been reading. So go to your [polling] place and vote, and then go pick some other place, and go sit there with your friends and make sure it’s on the up and up. Because know what? That’s a big, big problem in this country, and nobody wants to talk about it. Nobody has the guts to talk about it.

The reaction by the Left was fast and furious. There is no fraud, they claimed. What’s more, they say, comments like these are racist.

Wrong. In fact, their charges are hypocritical. While Democrats criticize Trump for wanting to bring some sorely needed sunshine to the electoral process, the Democratic party and its allies are planning to insert “election protection” teams in polling places across the country to purportedly protect voters.

The truth is that every candidate and campaign enjoys the same constitutional right to access the polling place and to have representatives monitor the integrity of our sacred electoral process. The First Amendment protects not only a voter’s right to speak but also his right to observe a polling place.

And why is that a good thing? A great deal of fraud and election irregularities in the past have been instigated by poorly trained poll workers or ill-motivated voters seeking to perpetuate fraud. As a result, the courts have recognized that there’s a public interest in allowing citizens to roll back the curtain on the secret voting process and to examine its fairness. That scrutiny, by both sides of a partisan divide, helps to enhance confidence in the results of an election and in government as a whole.

The good news is that the states are usually generous in allowing such access. In most states, laws and regulations lay out specific parameters to monitor vote counting. The purpose of these laws? To make sure everything is on the up and up.

Still, the Left remains obstinate. Indeed, for the past year, Democrats have filed endless lawsuits against voter-integrity laws and complained that measures to improve election security will burden or disenfranchise voters.

Here’s the truth. In the aftermath of the infamous 2000 election, a blue-ribbon commission was created. It was chaired by former Democratic president Jimmy Carter and former Republican secretary of state James Baker. The commission recommended a simple, serviceable, and straightforward solution: require voters to present a voter ID before they can vote.

For the past year, Democrats have filed endless lawsuits against voter-integrity laws and complained that measures to improve election security will burden or disenfranchise voters.

And yet, the Left fights measures like this every step of the way. It will tell you it’s oppressive to get an ID — even though the Supreme Court has ruled that a trip to an election office or the DMV does not place an undue burden on voters. Indeed, the Left opposes any real effort to keep the rolls accurate, even simply to remove the names of non-citizens, dead people, and those who have moved and registered in another state.

What do we get as a result of this mulishness, this refusal to recognize reality? Inaccurate registration information means that voters often stand in line for hours, only to learn they’re in the wrong polling place. If you want to point to one of the major causes of delays, confusion, and errors in our elections, you need only look to voter rolls that have been neglected for years by election officials.

Inaccurate voter rolls also exponentially increase the potential for fraud. Did you hear the one about the deceased World War II veterans who just registered to vote? How about the one where 40 days before the election, a thousand noncitizens were found on the voter rolls in Virginia? Or the dead dozen who cast their ballots in Colorado?

With disasters like these, it’s no wonder that citizens are eager to monitor our monitors. Our request: Do your job. Under federal law, election officials must keep voter rolls up to date.

As with any candidate, Donald Trump has a duty to his supporters — indeed, to the republic — to recruit and train citizens to make sure our electoral process and rules are transparent. How does monitoring and disclosure intimidate voters? It doesn’t — unless something or someone is not on the up and up.

A well-designed polling-place program prevents mischief and deters rule-breaking — by all sides. When it comes to exercising your right to vote, even the appearance of impropriety is unacceptable.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Wheels Begin to Come Off in the House

The Republican House has never been particularly functional, but Ryan has managed to hold it together admirably — until now. The Freedom Caucus took down the farm bill last week to pressure for a vote on a hawkish immigration bill, while a discharge petition is gaining ground with the support of Republican ... Read More

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Wins, America Loses

Derek Scissors of AEI has a sour take on the latest turn in U.S.–China trade talks: If there’s good news, it’s that the Trump administration has fallen silent on whether the U.S. will bend our law for China in the ZTE case, which got so much attention last week. That would be a big step backward. But even ... Read More

Jonathan Swift in a White Suit

In 1965 Tom Wolfe visited Princeton University for a panel discussion of "the style of the Sixties." The author of The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, published that year, was scheduled to appear alongside Günter Grass, Allen Ginsberg, and Paul Krassner. Grass spoke first. The German novelist's ... Read More

In Appreciation, and against (Too Much) Nostalgia

To put it a little self-pityingly: It seems that my gurus are going, and the world’s. Richard Pipes, the great historian of Russia and the Soviet Union, died on Thursday; Bernard Lewis, the great historian of the Middle East, died yesterday. We had them both for a long time. Pipes was born in 1923, Lewis way ... Read More

Comedians Are Catching On

The comedians are beginning to catch on. Over the weekend -- just one week after featuring a bevy of top-line Hollywood stars impersonating members of the Trump administration, as well as a cameo by a vengeful Stormy Daniels asking for President Trump’s resignation -- Saturday Night Live finally acknowledged ... Read More
PC Culture

The Nature of Progressive Insensitivity

Former vice president Joe Biden is back in the news yet again. For a second time, he seems surprised that poor residents of the inner city are capable of doing sophisticated jobs: We don't think ordinary people can do things like program, code. It's not rocket science, guys. So, we went and we hired some folks ... Read More

The Feminization of Everything Fails Our Boys

Let me share with you two troubling — and, I believe, closely linked — news reports. The first, from this weekend, comes courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute’s Mark Perry. In one chart, he highlights the dramatic and growing gender gap in higher education. In short, women are dominating: ... Read More