Tuesday, October 24, 2000

The Danger of Vote Fraud from Florida to California and Oregon
Wall Street Journal Fears Vote Fraud

If the presidential election is still neck and neck on Election Day, the race may be decided by phantom voters, warns the Wall Street Journalís John Fund.

"Many experts think this election could be as close as the one in 1960, when John F. Kennedy won by less than one vote per precinct. If so, this year's election could include similar allegations of vote fraud," Fund wrote in Tuesdayís edition.

"'Just as in 1960, the temptation to steal votes in key swing states will be enormous,'" political scientist Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia told the Journal. "Complacency is so great and enforcement so lax that the odds are we'll never know how much fraud was committed."

Fund quotes other experts who believe that vote fraud is anything but a relic of the past. Itís different only because itís more sophisticated. It is no longer necessary for the dead to rise on Election Day and flock to the polls - there are far easier ways to steal elections nowadays.

In 1996, for example, Vice President Gore's office used the massive power of the executive branch to get the Immigration and Naturalization Service to waive "stupid rules" on background checks so that hundreds of thousands of people awaiting citizenship would be "processed in time" for the 1996 election to cast grateful votes for their Democrat benefactors.

"It was later learned that 75,000 new citizens had arrest records when they applied. A spot check of 100 random new citizens by the House Judiciary Committee found that 20 percent of the sample had been arrested for serious crimes after they were given citizenship," the Journal reported.

"We have the modern world's sloppiest election systems," University of Texas political scientist Walter Dean Burnham told Fund.

Making fraud easier are laws such as the 1993 federal Motor Voter law that required states to allow people to register to vote when they get a driver's license. Moreover, 47 states don't require any proof of U.S. residence for enrollment. The Motor Voter law has added some 8 million people to the rolls, but the bipartisan polling team of Ed Goeas and Celinda Lake estimates that fewer than 5 percent of "motor voters" normally go to the polls.

Incredibly, Janet Renoís Justice Department has often blocked states from purging people from the voting rolls who have died or changed addresses. Purging the rolls is an important check against fraud, because in most states nobody is required to show photo identification before voting and itís easy for phantom voters to use other peopleís names to vote.

The Reno Justice Department has also taken the lead in making accusations of "voter intimidation" when anybody tries to monitor polling places for incidents of fraud. Last week, for example, Justice sent investigators to Fort Worth, Texas, to check on a political activist who distributed leaflets accusing local Democrats of casting absentee ballots on behalf of shut-in voters.

Fund recalls that when the Miami Herald won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on the fraud in that city's mayoral election, the Pulitzer jury noted it had been subject to "a public campaign accusing the paper of ethnic bias and attempted intimidation." Local officials who've tried to purge voter rolls of felons and non-citizens have been hit with nuisance lawsuits alleging civil-rights abuse.

In 1960, after JFK edged Nixon out in an election marked by massive incidents of voter fraud, a South Carolina Democrat congressman told a Nixon staff member, "You Republicans had better learn that unless you win big, weíll steal it from you."

Nothing seems to have changed all that much.

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