Election Integrity under the Arizona Ruling
Ed Wallis, commenting on my last article at American Thinker, left this message: "Dear author, please read J. Christian Adams' article on the Arizona decision; it seems most Conservatives read it WRONG: WE WIN." Inasmuch as Mr. Wallis was good enough to provide the link to the article, I took his advice. But only when I arrived at P J Media and saw Adams' photo did I remember who he is. Mr. Adams is a former Justice Department attorney whom I had seen several times on TV. He resigned in protest over the non-pursuit of the Black Panther voter intimidation case. You can learn a bit about Adams from Quin Hillyer's introduction of him (video) to a meeting of the Federalist Society. Adams has gone on to bigger and better things since absquatulating from Eric Holder's DOJ, such as writing a book, Injustice and blogging at Election Law Center.
I thank Ed Wallis for pointing me to Adams' article; it's succinct, elegant, and everyone who cares about election integrity should read it. Adams posted his article on the very day (June 17) that the Supreme Court delivered its ruling on the case concerning Arizona's proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registrants:
After re-reading the case and reflecting a bit more, it's clear that the decision was a disaster for the Left and their victory cackles are hollow --- and they know it.
Worse, conservative dooms-dayers who have never litigated a single National Voter Registration Act case have taken to the airwaves, describing the case as a disaster which invites illegal-alien voting. [Link added.]
In the last year, I've litigated five NVRA cases and worked on the preemption issues for years, and there is more to cheer in today's opinion than there is to bemoan. Those complaining about the opinion don't understand what the Left's goal was in this case: total federal preemption. On that score, Justice Scalia foiled them...
Another terrific article that also came out on the day of the Court's decision was Hans A. von Spakovsky's "Voting by Noncitizens in Arizona" at National Review. Spakovsky's is a fine companion piece to Adams':
The final three pages of Scalia's opinion lay out a roadmap whereby Arizona can get around this ruling. In 2005, Arizona asked the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency responsible for the federal voter-registration form, to "include the evidence-of-citizenship requirement among the state-specific instructions on the Federal Form" for any residents of Arizona. The EAC's four commissioners split 2 to 2, so the agency took no action. "We are aware of nothing that prevents Arizona from renewing its request," Scalia suggests. [Link added.]
If the EAC refuses the request or "its inaction persists," Scalia writes, then Arizona can sue the EAC and establish in court that "a mere oath will not suffice to effectuate its citizenship requirement and that the EAC is therefore under a nondiscretionary duty to include Arizona's concrete evidence requirement on the Federal Form."
If one examines the EAC's federal voter registration form, one can see that it doesn't require much information. But there is one item of info that could make all the difference for election integrity and that's Box 6: ID number. The problem with Box 6, however, is that it varies from state to state. From the instructions we read:
Box 6 --- ID Number
Federal law requires that states collect from each registrant an identification number. You must refer to your state's specific instructions for item 6 regarding information on what number is acceptable for your state. If you have neither a drivers license nor a social security number, please indicate this on the form and a number will be assigned to you by your state.
I sifted through the 18 pages of State Instructions, and I found only six states that require registrants to provide their "full" social security numbers (or SSNs) for Box 6. Those no-nonsense states are Hawaii, Kentucky, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. While there are variations in the details these six states provide for Box 6, it's interesting that they all begin their instructions identically: "Your full social security number is required." It's interesting that Hawaii, a very "liberal" state, is among those with this strictest of requirements; Hawaii's entry reads:
6. ID Number. Your full social
security number is required. It
is used to prevent fraudulent
registration and voting. Failure
to furnish this information
will prevent acceptance of this
application (Hawaii Revised
Statutes, Section 11‑15).
Even Arizona, the "rogue state" in question, doesn't demand one's full SSN to register to vote. Most of the states ask for driver's license. Of course, illegal aliens have little trouble in getting drivers' licenses. But for those without such licenses, the states demand the last four digits of one's SSN. If that seems reasonable to you, please explain it to me by calling me at home --- you can reach me at all hours with my personal telephone number; here are the last four digits: 6281.
The question is: what are the six stout states that actually have the good sense to demand a registrant's national ID going to do with it? Are they going to verify that it is a valid legal SSN by using, say, E-Verify? And are they going to demand that voters use their SSNs when voting, so that election workers can match them?
Unless the six states fully "use" the full SSN, it'll just be another useless piece of data gathering dust. And then we have the 44 states and the District of Columbia that make only the lamest of attempts at citizen verification.
Had "the Left" gotten everything they wanted in the Arizona case, it would have been disastrous for election integrity in America. But it was a status quo ruling; America still doesn't have election integrity. So I'll say it again, before Congress does comprehensive immigration reform, they need to enact comprehensive election reform.
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.