Election Integrity in Kansas and Beyond
The uproar over President Trump's putative "capitulation" to Putin in Helsinki and the "hack" of the 2016 election by the Russians has a message for anyone willing to hear it, and it is this: sixteen years after the debacle of the 2000 Florida recount, America's elections were still open to attack. That a great democracy's election systems would still be vulnerable to foul play four election cycles after a meltdown is proof that a fraud-free, error-free, tamper-proof election system is something America's political class just doesn't want us to have.
It's scandalous that our election systems are still vulnerable. It should be well nigh impossible to interfere with America's elections. It's disappointing that America's tech gurus haven't come up with systems that secure our elections from tampering and fraud. You'd think they'd be competing with each other to be the first to come up with the most elegant solution. Sad!
By pushing for laws that require proof of citizenship to register to vote, Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach has long been the whipping boy of the political left. One of the candidates who ran on August 7 to replace Kobach is Dennis Taylor. Mr. Taylor had an interesting guest column on July 23 in the Kansas City Star headlined "Three easy steps to securing our election results in Kansas."
Taylor's three easy steps don't deserve much comment. His first step is, "Audit, post-election, the eligibility of voters." Shouldn't eligibility be vetted beforehand, when one registers or when one votes? The second step is, "Back up all votes cast in Kansas with verified paper ballots." Why, so we can have recounts? And his last step: "Constantly verify system security, comprehensively and proactively, to ensure protection of online voter registration data." Right, but how do we "verify"?
The Kansas secretary of state oversees elections and voter registration in the state, so it's good that Taylor's article gets more substantive in the second half, where he makes some salient observations. One of them is that citizenship has never been validated in the state of Kansas, not even under Kobach's requirement for proof. Regarding the proof of citizenship law, Taylor writes:
The requirement to provide documentation fell only on those who were registering for the first time in Kansas, as a result of turning 18 or moving from another state. The law did not require those already registered to disclose whether they were citizens or non-citizens.
To effectively address the belief and concern that non-citizens were registering and voting, wouldn't it have made more sense to require that all Kansans currently registered, as well as new registrants, provide such proof of citizenship? That way, any non-citizens already registered and voting – if any – would have been discovered, since they presumably would not have been able to supply valid documentation. Applying the law only to prospective voters [i.e., new registrants] could never address the belief that non-citizens have registered and voted.
So Kansas's proof of citizenship law was never adequate. But it's doubtful that Kansans who are already registered would appreciate having to register yet again just so registrars can see their documents. One simple solution would be for voters to show their Social Security cards at the polls. (Maybe that's too simple.)
Just how should the states verify citizenship? The way to determine whether a registrant is a citizen is to go online and access federal databases to see if he is on file. Employers access federal files when they use E-Verify.
But besides verifying citizenship, the states have another problem. You see, there's no federal law that prohibits foreigners voting in state and local elections, and some local governments want to allow aliens to vote in their elections.
The snag arises when the states mix elections – that is, have federal and state-local officials on the same ballot. Because there is a federal law that one must be a citizen to vote in federal elections, one solution to this problem might be for the states to conduct separate elections for federal officials.
Having separate elections for the federal offices has attractions, because the quadrennial presidential election is the election that brings out the voters and creates those long lines at the polls. If there were only one to three items on the ballot (that is, U.S. representative, U.S. senator, and U.S. president), that would expedite voting. What takes the most time in mixed elections is the state and local items. To support that, take a look at this 2016 Kansa City ballot and see what all we had to vote on – everything from president to state amendments. By having separate elections, there'll be greater "throughput" in the federal election, and voting will go faster.
In August of 2016 at America Thinker, I outlined an idea for how America might have hack-proof election systems. I then exchanged a few emails with the expert whom I cited, MIT's Ron Rivest. He wasn't buying my idea. What I had urged was using the internet to vote, which means remote voting – i.e., voting from anywhere. One thing that concerned Rivest is that with remote voting, it becomes easy to sell one's vote. Selling one's vote may be more of a problem than I had appreciated, even though selling one's sacred vote is a federal crime. However, it's still legal to sell your soul (as long as you pay the sales tax). Remote voting also enables another crime: coerced voting. If a voter is not at an official voting station and is using a smartphone or computer to vote, an abusive spouse or an imperious boss could force a voter to vote the "right" way. But with absentee and mail-in ballots, isn't coercive voting possible right now?
Mr. Rivest is an expert on cyber-security. I don't know how much experience he has in applications programming, such as for payroll, accounts receivable, budget, time management, etc. But one thing I learned as an applications programmer is that there's usually a "workaround" to most snags. I believe there are workarounds for the problems associated with internet voting, but I'm not going into that here because I've concluded that professional politicians don't want such serious change in our election systems.
In a recent article, I presented an idea that is a workaround for the election systems currently in use. My goal was to come up with a minimalist "fix" that would allow the states to continue conducting presidential elections but would also make possible the identification of alien voters and other fraudsters and thereby give Americans an accurate count of the legitimate vote.
The article urged that all presidential "ballots" in all the states be sent to the feds to go into a single file, which could then be used to identify alien voters, multiple voters, etc. Even if a state has perfect voter registries, that doesn't prevent election crime; elections can be stolen in backrooms during recounts. The states are doing such a lousy job of vetting registrants that the only solution is to vet the voters in federal elections by accessing their records on federal databases, like the database at the Social Security Administration, as is done with E-Verify.
The Russian hacking narrative is a "shiny object" Democrats use to distract us from looking at the real foreign interference in our elections. This other "hacking" is done not remotely from Minsk or Romania, but right here at home under the noses of our election officials. And unlike Russian hacking, this other hacking actually does affect vote counts. But the Dems are okay with this other hacking by foreigners because it helps them "win" elections.
Democrats' idea of democracy is so warped that they really need to rename themselves. How about the "Aliens First Party"?
Jon N. Hall of ULTRACON OPINION is a programmer from Kansas City.