Make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat
Sunday, November 17, 2013 9:00 PM
There have been many cases of voter fraud in recent elections that threaten the integrity of our election process in Indiana. In Crawford County 2012 elections, a recount discovered more ballots in the ballot box than voters who had signed the pollbook.i In Jennings County 2011 elections, a man was charged with 48 felonies including forgery, perjury, and vote fraud involving falsified absentee ballots.ii There have been stories where an apartment-house owner would falsely file mail-in absentee ballots by stealing the names of people who had rented from him in the past. Then, of course, there is ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Just prior to the 2008 general election in Lake County, ACORN turned in a stack of 5000 voter registrations all at once. More than 2000 of them were bogus.iii The RNLA website lists numerous other examples nationwide (http://www.rnla.org/votefraud.asp). Luckily, a lot of improvements have recently been made to Indiana's election system.
Verifying the Voter Register. There will be a state-wide effort to purge invalid names out of Indiana's voter register. Typically these are names of people who have died or moved out of state. This effort will also include verifying the correct address of every registered voter. Indiana and several other states will share their voter registration lists to make sure someone isn't registered in more than one state.
Voter Registration. Let's say a person is helping register people to vote and collecting their registration forms. That person is now required to turn in a registration form within ten days to the County Voter Registration Office. That prevents an organization from trying to overwhelm the Registration Office at the last minute with a huge stack of registrations, causing the Registration Office to rush to verify all of them on time, and maybe miss fraudulent ones. iv
Mail-In Absentee Voting. Let's say someone picks up an absentee ballot application from a voter. That person is now required to turn in the application to the County Election Board within ten days.v Again, this prevents an organization from trying to overwhelm the County Election Board at the last minute with a huge stack of absentee ballot applications, causing it to rush to authenticate them on time, and maybe miss fraudulent ones.
You can't register to vote and then try to vote absentee in-person on the same day. In 2014, the deadline for registering is April 7. In-person absentee voting doesn't start until April 8. This is so the County Election Board has time to check a person is actually eligible to vote before allowing him/her to vote.vi
Photo ID Verification. One precinct election officer of each political party is entitled to ask a voter to provide photo ID. For example, just because a Democrat poll worker says, "I checked it already," doesn't mean a Republican poll worker can't also check it if he/she is in doubt.vii
The ultimate goal is to have an election system where it easy to vote, but hard to cheat.
"We are committed to Free and Fair Elections, devoid of abuse and fraud. With more and more investigations and indictments of fraud being leveled against our political opponents, including an act which touched the race for the highest office in the land, it is of great importance that Indiana continues to lead the charge for electoral integrity through our Voter Identification law and other safeguard measures." -- Indiana Republican Party Platform
i. The Corydon Democrat, "GOP alleges possible voter irregularities," Jan. 2, 2013, http://www.corydondemocrat.com/pdalpeditorial.lasso?-token.story=225557.114125
ii. News and Tribute, "Ex-campaign worker accepts plea in voter-fraud case, " Feb. 14, 2013, http://newsandtribune.com/local/x766087996/Ex-campaign-worker-accepts-plea-in-voter-fraud-case
iii. CNNPolitics.com, "Thousands of voter registration forms faked, officials say," Oct. 10, 2008.
iv. Indiana Code 3-7-32-8
v. Indiana Code 3-11-4-2(g)
vi. Indiana Code 3-11-10-26(e)
vii. Indiana Code 3-11-8-25.1(b)
John Pickerill is the Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman. His column is part of a series of columns that appear in The Paper of Montgomery County on Mondays from public officials.