My wife, Patricia, asked me last week what I intended to focus my column on this week. Before I could answer, she told me she thought I should write on this past election cycle and all the junk mail on local elections we received daily. She was disgusted by all of the negativity and lack of substance in the messages the candidates were sending out, and she thought it’s time to make an issue of it. I do agree with her, based on what I hear at the paper. So below, I’ll touch on that issue, and go a little further. She and I were very recently at a Heritage Foundation gathering in Washington, D.C., where election integrity was a topic. Let me also write a few sentences on that issue.
One: Negative, Empty Campaigning
Our government is only as strong as the quality of the people we have in place running it. To insure we have competent officials, we need an informed electorate deciding on the candidates. The American people are not stupid, but to look at the campaign literature we are inundated with, we have to assume that many of the candidates believe that they can get us to vote for them by flooding us with thoughtless, negative drivel.
Regarding negativity, in my speaking with candidates, I’m told they, too, dislike being that way, but, unfortunately, negativity and attack ads work – so they use them. So, what does this tell us? If what they are saying is true, we have to stop rewarding negative campaigners with our votes.
We need to reward those who stand for what we believe in, and who are the type of people with the experience and education capable of accomplishing what they promise.
Two: Only Qualified Voters Participating
There is no greater threat to our democracy than for the voters to distrust the integrity of the process. If we come to believe that the polls are being rigged to favor one side or the other, we will ask ourselves, why should I vote -- the crooked politicians will undo my vote and put in place the person they want. The integrity of the ballot is increasingly being undermined via several means.
We have heard an increasing chorus of nonsense which states that voters should not have to show personal identification in order to vote, claiming it represents voter suppression of minorities. If suppression is taking place, wouldn’t you look for a reduction in the number of minorities participating on the electoral process? The facts demonstrate the opposite trend. According to Jason Snead, former policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, the U. S. Census Bureau reports, Asian, Hispanic and black turnout increased by double digits from 2014 to 2018.
On the issue of voter fraud, he said that the Heritage Foundation has a data base of 1,217 proven instances of fraud, and that list is not comprehensive. He also referenced a 2012 Pew Research study which found 2.8 million people registered in two or more states.
He continued, “Across the nation, hundreds of counties have more registered voters than residents.”
Vote harvesting is a further area of concern, given the great opportunity for fraud. “Vote harvesting occurs when third parties – like campaign workers – collect absentee ballots from voters and deliver them to election officials.“
According to Hans von Spakovsky, the manager of the Heritage Foundation's Election Law Reform Initiative, “Vote harvesting gives party activists, campaign consultants, and other political guns-for-hire the ability to manipulate election outcomes either through coercion of voters or outright ballot theft and forgery. Yet, in places like California and the District of Columbia, vote harvesting is perfectly legal.
Back to Patricia’s sentiment, if you are feeling her pain, consider letting the candidates know.