Imagine showing up to the polls to vote in an election and hearing the poll worker somebody already voted in your name. Two voters in Green Bay are alleging that’s exactly what happened in last Tuesday’s election. Because there is no way to determine which ballots were the ones allegedly fraudulently cast, those two ballots were counted along with the votes legitimately cast by the two people whose identities were possibly stolen. If those fraudulent votes canceled out the intent of the votes cast by the two legitimate voters, the two voters were effectively disenfranchised by vote fraud.
Making matters worse for residents of Green Bay, one of those possibly fraudulent ballots was cast in a very close election for Alderman in Green Bay’s sixth district. Only six votes separated incumbent Alderman Dan Piton and challenger Shae Sortwell. Sortwell was declared the victor, 337 to 331. Piton is alleging election fraud as part of his request for a recount.
These kinds of cases will only increase if election legislation currently under consideration by the legislature continues its speedy course towards passage. AB 895 / SB 640 would inflate voter registrations, make it easier to cast absentee ballots falsely, make challenging fraudulent voters more difficult, and even allow the Government Accountability Board (GAB) to share personal information of voters with outside organizations. It is near impossible to exaggerate how often we could have cases like those in Green Bay.
The bills specifically require the GAB to make an agreement with the state Department of Transportation and, using the driver license file, create voting registrations using the drivers license registry for those who are not registered. No notice will be given to anyone who was registered by this process. The registrations could be confirmed online, allowing someone else to confirm the voter registration.
Then the proposed law would allow someone to request an absentee ballot via e-mail. The law will not even require the signature of a witness if the absentee ballot was cast at an “alternate location” designated by a municipality.
Catching fraud at the polls will be even more difficult. Municipalities will be able to designate multiple “alternate” locations for casting absentee ballots as long as they notify the GAB. So not only will there be more places for fraud, but we will be extending the time frame for it, too.
As for trying to catch vote fraud on election day, Democrats are trying to make that more difficult, too. In order to confront a voter to see if the are voting legitimately, the person watching the polls would have to live in the same county for first class cities, even though fraud in one county affects voters in other counties.
In our Green Bay example, had someone been in the polling place when the fraudulent ballot had been cast that knew the person was not who they claimed to be, before the vote could be challenged the challenger would have to prove that they were qualified to challenge he vote. The great irony is that the challenger would have to provide photo id even as the fraudulent voter would not.
The icing on the cake is that the law would allow outside groups, like the organizations-formally-known-as-Acorn, to enter into agreements with the GAB to share information to “help” them confirm voter registration information. Nothing like allowing the fox to guard the hen house.
So we’ll have the GAB getting driver information from the DOT to create voter registrations for people who have no intention to vote. Then we’ll allow people go online and confirm those voter registrations rather than do it in person, or we’ll allow outside groups “confirm” those registrations. Then we’ll allow all those new registrations request absentee ballots via e-mail, and they won’t even need a witness to verify the ballot is being properly cast. Then we’ll have the polls where, instead of fraudulent voters being challenged, any poll watchers themselves will be challenged to prevent them from deterring vote fraud. That’s if the poll watchers will be able to keep up with all the new designated polling stations for absentee voting.
If this election law is crammed through next Tuesday (that's the timeline I've heard) two cases of voter fraud in Green Bay will seem a quaint but happy memory compared to the nightmare we’ll be creating.
This law comes at a time when the legislature is controlled by a Democratic Party that is beginning to see their fortunes wane. The perception that the Democrats would gain partisan advantage in changing the election laws to allow more fraud should give all of us pause as it erodes the confidence of the public in our elections. That it proceeds with such speed without giving the public time to understand the full ramifications of the bills will only add to the perception.
That one faction of our political system should play such a dangerous game with the fundamental underpinnings of the public support for our democratic system does not speak well for them, and will only encourage greater cynicism, distrust and ultimately a complete lack of confidence in our electoral system.
By James Wigderson
Special Guest Perspective for the MacIver Institute