President Trump was understandably criticized last year when he tweeted out an accusation that he would have won the popular vote were it not for “three to five million illegal votes” being cast (a specific claim for which he provided no evidence). But contrast the blowtorch of skepticism he received with the virtual silence that came last week when Hillary Clinton made a similar charge, claiming that voter suppression cost her the race.
Both presidential candidates in 2016 want to make excuses for their own poor campaign choices. That’s why we need the bipartisan commission that Trump appointed this month to look at allegations about both voter fraud and voter suppression. Today, the Public Interest Legal Foundation released documented proof that in just 138 of Virginia’s counties and cities, voting officials quietly removed 5,556 voters from the rolls for being non-citizens in recent years and that a third of them had cast ballots. Virginia’s sloppy procedures are duplicated in many other states, making a national investigation imperative.
Hillary has clearly bought into a victimization model of her loss. She told New York magazine:
I would have won had I not been subjected to the unprecedented attacks by Comey and the Russians, aided and abetted by the suppression of the vote, particularly in Wisconsin. . . . Whoever comes next, this is not going to end. Republicans learned that if you suppress votes you win.
What Hillary is talking about is a liberal theme spread by The Nation magazine and Priorities USA, a Clinton super PAC, that laws requiring voter ID and “other suppression rules” prevented many people from voting. Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who came within a hair of becoming the new head of the Democratic National Committee, got out in front on the issue shortly after the election. Just this month, he tweeted that “Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,748) — via @AriBerman @thenation.”
But honest liberals haven’t let their brethren get away with such reasoning. Slate — in a story headlined “Did a Voter ID Law Really Cost Clinton a Victory in Wisconsin?” — quoted several election experts who poured “a big bucket of cold water” on the idea. The reliably liberal fact-checker Snopes ruled the claim “unproven,” noting that even if some people lacked the ID required to vote and didn’t bother to fill out provisional ballots, it didn’t mean they wanted to vote.
The liberal website Vox went further and pointed out that 1) Clinton lost in key states that didn’t have new voter-ID laws and 2) her margin of defeat was too big to be explained by any suppression. Even the New York Times filed a report from Wisconsin that found that black voters were far less excited about Hillary as a candidate than they had been about Obama.
Despite Hillary’s active imagination, it’s appropriate to investigate allegations of voter suppression, which has a dark history in this country and against which we need constant vigilance — although requiring an ID is not suppression.
In 2008, more than 1,200 felons illegally cast votes in Minnesota’s ultra-close Senate race, in which Al Franken was ultimately declared the winner by 312 votes.
But we also need to be vigilant against new forms of lawbreaking. In 2014, three professors from two Virginia universities estimated, based on comprehensive survey data, that 6.4 percent of the nation’s non-citizen population voted illegally in the 2008 election, enough to have changed the outcome in some states. In 2008, more than 1,200 felons illegally cast votes in Minnesota’s ultra-close Senate race, in which Al Franken was ultimately declared the winner by 312 votes. Franken’s vote proved to be the crucial one that allowed Obamacare to become law.
We can’t rely on state officials to bring these problems to light. In some cases they are actively involved in covering them up. Take Virginia, where Christian Adams, a former Justice Department lawyer who now runs the Public Interest Legal Foundation, has found that election officials routinely fail to alert law enforcement about illegal votes or registrations.
“At the instruction of Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe, local officials hid critical information that would have improved election integrity, while McAuliffe, a former Clinton political operative, vetoed proposal after proposal to shore up the laws,” Adams told me. The Washington Post reported that McAuliffe appointees to the state’s Board of Elections even wanted to eliminate the requirement that those registering to vote “check boxes to indicate whether they are U.S. citizens or felons whose right to vote has not been restored.”
Virginia has a history of close elections. McAuliffe himself won by only 56,000 votes out of 2.2 million cast in 2013, and that same year, Democrats won the key office of attorney general by only 907 votes. “In this election year, aliens and felons must not cast illegal ballots, and if they do they must be prosecuted,” Adams told me, referring to the Virginia gubernatorial election coming up this November. “I sincerely hope that Governor McAuliffe’s veto pen did not invite a close election tainted by fraud.”
Let’s also hope that the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s report on Virginia galvanizes efforts to finally examine the issue of voter irregularities and registration sloppiness on a national level. Liberals have so far been spending their time trying to discredit the presidential commission examining voting issues, even going so far as to pressure its Democratic members to resign from it. Perhaps it’s because they know that evidence such as that assembled by Adams’s group could be just the tip of an iceberg of long-ignored voting problems that need addressing.