The Democrats vs. Electoral Reform
Norman Ornstein of American Enterprise Institute recently wrote an article lamenting the recent Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder that struck down a part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). Ornstein bemoans the usual: voter suppression, increased difficulty in voter registration, voter ID, all perpetrated by those monsters in the South.
The most risible claim Ornstein makes is gerrymandering. Under the VRA, gerrymandering never went away. Check out the congressional districts for members of the Congressional Black Caucus, especially North Carolina's 12th District and Texas' 33rd District. One might wonder if those strange district boundaries were drawn up for the sole purpose of getting folks elected who have high levels of melanin in their skin.(To be fair to Mr. Ornstein, the second half of his article has some interesting proposals; I even endorsed one.)
On September 30, Hot Air reported that the Justice Department "will file a lawsuit to block North Carolina's voter-ID law." That same day Fox News reported that Justice claims the state's new voter ID rules violate Section 2 of the VRA.
Democrats tell us that we should accept the Supreme Court's decision on ObamaCare, but Attorney General Eric Holder doesn't seem to be able to accept the Court's decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Perhaps Holder can get his boss to nullify the Court's decision, as he's done with other things he doesn't like, such as ObamaCare's employer mandate.
Democrats have always been rather blasé about election fraud; Hillary Clinton thinks of it as a "phantom epidemic." So, consider what recourse there is to be had when election fraud is suspected, perhaps in elections with the tiniest of margins. With today's systems, the only remedy is to conduct a recount or a new election. But both of those "solutions" have the very same insufficiencies as were in the first go. There's no reason to think that a second count (or third or fourth) will be more accurate than the first count. Indeed, there are many reasons to think a recount will be less accurate.
In order to obviate recounts and new elections (do-overs), election officials need the ability to "correct" vote counts. But you can't do that with today's systems because correcting vote counts requires that ballots be identifiable; that is, ballots that are "linked" to the voters who cast them. If voters and their ballots are linked, then officials would have the means to find a fraudulent ballot and subtract its votes from the vote totals.
In a recent article, I proposed that ballots should carry the voter IDs of those who cast them, which would create the linkage needed for correcting a vote count. Some commenters didn't like that idea because they thought it might destroy the secret ballot. Abandoning the time-honored secret ballot would be a serious change. But I was advocating the complete computerization of elections, including Internet voting. In the system that I proposed, ballots would be electronic records on dedicated computer servers in locked rooms in each state capital. Because those electronic records could be destroyed soon after elections, it's difficult to see how anyone could find out how one voted. And in any event, if there is a choice between the secret ballot and finally at long last having real election integrity, wouldn't we have to choose the latter?
Having the capability to correct a vote count corrupted by fraud or error requires the very same innovations that make correcting a vote count less likely to be needed. But with that capability, if it were discovered that someone who had died the night before had nonetheless voted on Election Day, we'd be able to find that miraculous ballot and back it out.
Not having correctible vote counts means that everything involved with an election -- from registration, to purging decedents, incarcerated criminals, and those who have moved away, to vote counting --would need to work perfectly in order to intercept and prevent election fraud. That is a pipedream in banana republic America where registrars don't even verify the very first requirement for voter eligibility (citizenship), where ballot boxes are still being stuffed (as Jack Cashill recently reported), and where none of it is traceable.
That Americans continue to accept the unacceptable is perhaps the clearest indication that we really are a nation in decline. If we were a nation of serious people, we'd have demanded after the 2000 election debacle that henceforth our elections would verifiable. But we didn't do that, and the very heart of our republic, the vote, remains open to error and fraud.
Will daylight ever come?
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.