By Dylan R.N. Crabb
New Mexico’s Secretary of State Maggie Tolouse Oliver held an event in Taos last weekend with the help of the Taos County Democratic Party. She was accompanied by former Missouri Sec. of State, Jason Kander, who now works as the president of Let America Vote, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving individual access to election ballots. The event was held at the Taos Mesa Brewery-Mothership which enjoyed a full crowd of patrons (mostly registered Democrats), turning out in a show of support for their newly elected Sec. of State. Mrs. Oliver will be running for a full term next November in the 2018 midterm elections.
Staff members for Sec. of State Oliver mingled throughout the crowd moments prior to the Secretary’s arrival, taking questions from curious patrons. Upon arrival, Town of Taos Counsilor and Taos County Democratic Chairman Darien Fernandez introduced the Secretary (in a somewhat comedic fashion) as she took the stage.
“How many people are here for Secretary Oliver,” said Counsilor Fernandez into a microphone to the crowd. “How many people are just here to have a beer?”
On stage, the New Mexico Sec. of State and Missouri’s former Sec. of State reiterated their commitment to protecting individual voting rights, similar talking points that voters have become accustomed to hearing from the Democratic Party. Mr. Kander stated his excessive disapproval of an apparent agenda from the Republican Party to limit ballot access based on voter preferences and explained a 3-step process that he witnessed in Missouri:
- Step 1: cast doubt on the effectiveness of the democratic process.
- Step 2: create obstacles to getting to the ballot on Election Day.
- Step 3: create obstacles to the above obstacles.
Mr. Kander seemed passionate in his disapproval of President Donald Trump’s administration, specifically the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a special committee created by the Trump administration via an executive order. Both Secretaries referred to the special committee as the “worst assault on voting rights in our nation’s history” even though the executive order creating the committee states that it shall play only an “advisory” role in its work. Protecting the integrity of American elections is important but is President Trump really the worst assault on voting rights in our history? When the United States Constitution was first ratified by a majority of the original thirteen states, only propertied men of privilege were legally allowed to vote in elections. African-American men did not obtain the right to vote until 1870 and women did not obtain the right to vote until 1920. Between America’s Reconstruction period and the Civil Rights movement, the Ku Klux Klan experienced the peak of its power, using terrorist tactics to suppress the African-American population’s newfound freedom and keep the southeastern states under the control of white, plantation owners. America has an incredibly dark history regarding civil rights suppression and race relations, but we have definitely made progress since our Constitution was initially drafted.
The facts around the crime of voter fraud (Brennan Center for Justice, 2017) reveal that it is an incredibly rare crime and most occurrences of voter fraud are not even intentional. If a crime occurs at a rate of less than a percent, it is arguable to even call it an issue. If the average American citizen has a greater chance of being struck by lightning than the crime of voter fraud occurring, is it an issue in which the federal government should involve itself?
A much more common form of fraud concerning elections is referred to as election fraud, manipulations from administrators of elections. Independent Journalist Greg Palast conducted an extensive investigation into a specific computer program called “Interstate Crosscheck” used by various secretary of states across the nation to purge voter rolls of alleged “double voters.” A primary target of Palast’s investigation was Kris Kobach, the current Sec. of State for Kansas and the head of the Trump administration’s Commission on Election Integrity; he is also the former chairman of the Republican Party of Kansas. The computer program “Interstate Crosscheck” is a cross-referencing database of names of registered voters in different states. These alleged “double voters” are removed from the voting roll in the state utilizing Interstate Crosscheck. I’m sure you already see the main problem with this computer program: may individuals share a name, regardless of relation. The program also does not take into account previous addresses and a voter who previously lived in one state may still be on the voter roll of his previous state. That would be a clerical error of a specific county, not a malicious ploy. Would it be worth the effort for a voter in one state to drive to his previous residence in another state just for a potential opportunity to vote twice for a preferred candidate? At best, Interstate Crosscheck is an incompetent service; at worst, it is a scheme to remove individual voters from state registrars.
The most simple effective strategy to combat schemes to manipulate elections is to encourage more people to vote. The greater the turnout, the more difficult it is to manipulate the numbers.