California jury on Aug. 23 convicted a Mexican citizen of identity theft and
decades ago, Gustavo Araujo Lerma took on the identity of a deceased U.S.
citizen and proceeded to vote illegally in a number of U.S. elections.
Lerma didn’t vote for who you might expect.
Lerma is a Republican and an ardent backer of President Donald Trump. His lawyers even held up as evidence at trial a letter from Trump and Vice President Mike Pence thanking him for his support.
nothing else, Lerma’s conviction is further proof that the incentives to commit
voter fraud are truly bipartisan.
Foundation experts have long pointed out that voter fraud is not particular to
one party or ideology. At its core, people cheat in elections to further their
preferred causes or to advance their own careers, and there’s nothing
inherently conservative or liberal about the desire to win.
That’s hardly a shocking revelation. Lerma is the latest—but hardly the first—Republican to be caught and convicted of election crimes. In fact, The Heritage Foundation’s voter fraud database contains many examples of fraud perpetrated by people on the political right.
whenever a right-leaning vote fraudster is identified, liberal activists and
politicians relish needling conservatives over the alleged hypocrisy.
They did it last year, when widespread absentee ballot tampering tainted the results of the race in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. (A special election for that seat will be held on Sept. 10.)
outlets are doing it now with the Lerma case,
pointing out the irony that Trump—who has claimed that he most likely
would have won the popular vote in 2016 if millions of illegal votes had not
been cast against him—actually benefited from this very type of fraud.
those reactions—though par for the course in today’s divisive politics—miss the
liberal politicians, pundits, and publications want to devote their time and
attention to election integrity, they are welcome to—and should. But they ought
to be focusing less on the party affiliation of the fraudster, and more on finding
solutions to combat the fraud they perpetrate.
After all, whenever voter fraud occurs, it undermines the electoral process for everyone.
Fortunately, we know what policies work to combat voter fraud. Voter identification laws and programs to clean up wildly inaccurate voter rolls help to verify that only eligible individuals are voting, and that they are casting ballots in the jurisdictions where they actually reside.
cross-check programs, meanwhile, compare state voter rolls and help to identify
duplicate registrations and single out double-voters.
policies are not only common sense, they are urgently needed. A 2012 Pew study found that
one out of every eight voter registrations were inaccurate, with 2.8 million
people registered in two or more states.
the nation, hundreds of counties have more registered voters than residents. In
June, California began a process of
removing a staggering 5 million inactive registrations from its rolls—but only
after it was sued by Judicial Watch.
impossible to deny that individuals are exploiting vulnerabilities in the
election process. The Heritage
voter fraud database contains 1,217 proven instances of fraud, but that list
cases—which are most likely just the tip of the iceberg—range from ineligible
noncitizens casting illegal ballots to corrupt politicians buying votes and
rigging their own elections.
unless it’s a Republican committing the fraud, many liberal politicians and
activists routinely insist that voter fraud is a figment of conservatives’
imaginations—or they assert that it’s so rare it’s inconsequential.
elections have been overturned due to fraud—sometimes, because of only a small
handful of illegal ballots.
label policies such as requiring IDs at the polling place “racist,” and
casually extend that derisive label to anyone who supports them.
data are not on their side. Consider the latest from the Pew
In 2018, voter participation surged, and “last year’s midterm voters [were] the
most racially and ethnically diverse ever.”
to the Census Bureau, black, Hispanic,
and Asian voter turnout all increased by double digits from 2014 to 2018. In
Georgia—where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams refused to
concede defeat because of supposed “voter suppression”—black voter registration
increased by more than 6 percentage points from the prior midterm, and actually
topped white voters in percentage terms, 68.4% compared with 66.8%.
bottom line? Accusations of voter suppression have no basis in fact.
why, then, do we keep hearing them?
some politicians and activists, election integrity is just too politically valuable.
Turning the sanctity of the ballot box into a racially charged wedge issue
animates the base, tars their opponents, and provides a convenient scapegoat for Election Day
deserve better than cynical gamesmanship, and that is especially true when it
comes to protecting the integrity of the electoral process.
conviction is a reminder that voter fraud can be committed on a bipartisan
basis. Support for policies to combat it should be equally bipartisan.
Source material can be found at this site.