The following is a letter I wrote to then-Sens. Kit Bond and Jim Talent (Rs-MO) in late 2004. I am posting it here for posterity, with amendments afterward.
Dear Sen. Bond and Sen. Talent,
One of the hallmarks of a democratic republic is the public privilege to vote, and public confidence that voting is a procedurally effective way to affect change, not only in determining who holds public office, but also in the actual determination of public policy when it comes to issues or propositions on ballots.
The day that the public loses confidence in their vote is the beginning of the end of the republic.
Unfortunately, I fear that day is quickly arriving.
While there is much talk about Republican Party “conspiracies” to disenfranchise racial minorities, I believe that such is virtually non-existent. Instead, there seems to be much fraud when it comes to people casting multiple ballots, dead people and dogs voting, and corrupt poll workers stuffing ballot boxes after-hours. Coincidentally, I believe there was a lot of that in Florida in 2000 – pro-Democrat forces punched multiple ballots for Al Gore after the polls closed, and illegally stuffed the boxes, and some of the “chads” wound up dimpled, hanging and/or pregnant simply because the corrupt poll-workers tried to punch too many ballots with a stylus at the same time. Donna Braziele, Al Gore’s campaign manager in 2000, said that she could “get five points on the ground” for Gore if the average poll margin for Bush over Gore was under five percent. By “on the ground,” I think she meant black voter fraud. Illegal after-hours box stuffing is common in the ghetto where there are strong political machines that revolve around a personality. Between 1987 and 1993, IMHO, Bill Clay’s machine stole a number of St. Louis local elections, including city government and school board.
Also, I have heard that there are tens of thousands of people double-registered in multiple states. For instance, I have heard that there were some 40,000 double-registrants in New York State and Florida, about the same in Ohio and Florida, and about 10,000 double-dippers in California and Colorado.
The true disenfranchisement occurs when vote fraud dilutes the real votes of real people. When vote fraud is rampant in certain parts of the country, it does not behoove the average person to vote at all, for the average person gets it in their mind that “they” are going to put in who “they” want anyway. At such time, that “end of the republic” scenario I just described beckons. I certainly am not happy here in St. Louis when my vote, which I agonized over for weeks, gets negated by a Pomeranian.
With all of this having been stated, I believe it is some time for some serious reforms in our elections processes.
Because we are much more of a mobile, interstate society than ever, I believe that this justifies action on the part of the Federal government. Therefore, I believe that an amendment should be added to the U.S. Constitution making objects of Federal jurisdiction such things as determining the qualifications for the franchise, registration of voters, and the voting-day logistics. Obviously, the Federal government does have and should still have the authority to determine when elections for Federal officers should be held, but I would leave most everything else up to the states.
When this amendment is in place, I would recommend these actual reforms:
(1) Since the Federal government would now have the power to decide who gets to vote and who doesn’t, I would disenfranchise all convicted felons. In my opinion, if felons aren’t responsible enough to own firearms, then they aren’t responsible enough to vote.
(2) The registration database of all registered voters in the country should be a federal object. Obviously, the database should show where and which precinct the person is registered in.
(3) Pursuant to that, every registered voter should be issued a federally-issued Voter Identification Card, which would also include a digital photograph of the voter, as well as a bar-code individualized to the voter. The beauty of that is that when there is a digital photo of a person, certain facial features of a person can be quantified using polygons – meaning that if one person tries to register in more than one place, the national database would do a polygonical analysis and show that the person is already registered to vote somewhere else. The bar code would allow the voter to “check in” by means of an electronic scanner on election day and update the national database to show that s/he has already voted that day.
(4) A national voter ID card is justifiable at the same time an omnibus national ID for individuals is not, because voting is a privilege, not a right, akin to driving a motorized vehicle on public roads. After all, we all have a right to promulgate our political opinions, but we don’t have a right to make anyone pay attention to our opinions. Likewise, we all have an opinion on who should be President or Senator or Governor, but it does not follow that appropriate appendages of government (i.e. Boards of Election Commissioners, Canvassing Boards, etc.) should heed everyone’s opinion therein in determining who actually wins those elections. For instance, teenagers and jailed felons have the right to have an opinion, and express that opinion, on who should win public office, but it does not follow that they should actually have the franchise.
(5) With this system, voting would be a lot easier and a lot more convenient. There would be no more hour-deep lines at polling places. All one would have to do on election day is scan one’s bar-coded Voter ID card in, and the system would mark this person as having voted. One would vote using touch-screen systems, ones that have multiple paper printouts for auditing and re-counting purposes, one paper printout for the precinct judges to ballot-box in, one for the voter, and maybe others as deemed necessary.
(6) With a national database, any person could vote on what they would get to vote on in their precinct, but they could vote on it using any Federally-issued and operated “voting booth” in the country. For instance, Missouri holds its primaries in August, and St. Louis holds its municipal elections in March and April. Missouri residents that are out of Missouri in August and are registered to vote in Missouri (and MO only) could vote on Missouri primary day even if they were in Alaska, just scan their Voter ID card and vote their precinct’s ballots. St. Louis City voters could vote on mayor and aldermen on those election days even if they were in Florida on those days. Obviously, only those registered to vote in St. Louis City would get to vote the St. Louis City ballot, and St. Louis City’s Board of Election Commissioners would get to choose what is on the ballot, and Missouri’s constitution would still rule on when St. Louis City’s city elections are. This would eliminate the whole need for absentee ballots and the worries about fraud that spawn in the realm of absentee ballots.
(7) Now that the beauty of the system described above is known in preserving the axiom of one-person-one-vote-one-location, perhaps extending certain busy election days to more than one day might be in order. For instance, since the biggest voter turnout is on Presidential election days, perhaps the days when one could vote in the Presidential election could be extended to days earlier than just that certain Tuesday. You might want to keep the polls open for four days or maybe a whole week. Point is, fraud-friendly absentee voting and “early voting” would not be needed anymore.
(8) I would make it to where an individual would have to show a little initiative to register to vote, and because a photo ID would be necessary, there would have to be only a certain, finite number of Federally-supervised places where one could register to vote. Motor-voter would have to go, because one would have to prove citizenship to register. Mailing in a paper card to register should be out too, because a person would have to show his or her face at some edifice somewhere. On-line registration should also be nixed. But the Federal jurisdiction of voter registration means that any citizen could register at any Federal center, but only register for where they actually live, even if they live in St. Louis and happen to be registering to vote at a Federal center in Hawaii. This would also mean that a registrant would have to prove where their primary residence is. In my opinion, if one is too lazy to show this relatively minimal amount of initiative, one is not responsible enough to vote, and such a person probably doesn’t know beans from shinola about what he or she is voting for anyway. Conceal-carry permit holders have to show a lot more initiative, ability and qualification to earn those privileges.
(9) And, in accordance with our great “traditions” of civil rights and equality, there should be no explicit discrimination in terms of race, color, gender, creed, etc. in determining who gets to vote, but obviously only citizens of at least a certain age who are not convicted felons should get to register and vote. Of course, we should be mindful of the fact that the citizenship requirement will have a disparate impact on illegal aliens, mostly Hispanic, and the felon disqualification will wind up “disenfranchising” many blacks, and since blacks and Hispanics are the base of the Democrat party, be prepared to hear that party’s hacks, as well as the civil rights industry/hustle (inasmuch as the two are distinguishable) whine about racism.
(10) There probably shouldn’t be a charge to register or a charge to vote, either, meaning that the Federal government would have to incur all costs, even though voting is a privilege akin to driving on public roads, and there are charges to get those kind of licenses, and in most states that have “conceal-carry” privileges, it costs big money to get one of those licenses.
(11) No more need for military absentee ballots. Federally-supervised voting machines can be placed on military bases and installations in the USA and around the world, and service personnel can also register to vote (where they live), and actually vote their own home precinct, on base or on installation. No more worries about deadlines to mail in military absentee ballots, and cretins like Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) wouldn’t be able to engage in veiled conspiracies to disenfranchise his state’s overseas military personnel just to try to throw PA to Kerry.
(12) States and localities would still have the responsibility to notify voters registered in their jurisdiction that there is an impending election, even if the election is minor. For instance, if a certain neighborhood in St. Louis City is having a special property tax plebiscite, then all the registered voters in those precincts would have to be contacted by the city notifying of the election, even if some of those registered voters are on active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.
(13) Tabulation of ballots would be much easier, and would probably be instantaneous. In fact, in theory, this system could be hooked to the internet, and anyone could watch the live, on-line tabulation of ballots, though security measures would have to be tight to prevent hacking. Though this entire procedure would be a Federal responsibility, multiple mainframe computer systems and redundant systems could be set up in many places to ensure the integrity of the counting in case of power failures.
(14) Also the paper trail described above would serve as an emergency backup. At that, to ensure the credibility of the computer tabulations, precincts could be selected at random, and their paper-trail tabulation could be compared to the computer tabulation for that same precinct; statistically speaking, if say, five percent of all precincts nationally were chosen at random, and none of them show a discrepancy between paper counts and computer counts, then the entire nationwide system is very likely to be above board. (To keep the element of surprise, the precincts should be chosen at random using a computer, but the judges at these precincts should not be informed that theirs is one being audited until the polls close and officers of the law show up with an announcement of the audit. The element of surprise therein will be an extra safeguard to keep everyone “in line.”) If the Nielsen organization thinks that a random sample of all of five thousand households in the whole country is statistically sound enough to figure verily ratings for TV shows such that advertisers give Nielsen ratings credibility on what to pay for ad space on TV, then five percent of precincts is far more than sound in this scenario.
With this kind of system in place, even the high-turnout elections would run smoothly, and with relatively minimal supervision at individual polling places. Voter fraud would be virtually impossible with this system. No more multiple voting by blacks in north St. Louis city and north St. Louis county, no more of these black election “judges” sitting around after the polls close punching multiple voter cards for Bosley in 1993 or the pro-busing school board slate in St. Louis City in 1991, no more Chicago-style wild corruption, no more turnout from the cemeteries and the dog pounds, no more of these New York City jetsetters voting for Gore/Lieberman at their New York address then hopping the jet down to West Palm to vote for Gore/Lieberman at their Florida vacation house, and no more of these yuppie Beverly Hills types who buy up a few acres on the Front Range in Colorado and pretend they’re cowboys on the weekends voting in both places.
No more long lines, no more having to worry about “getting back into town” on election day to vote, and no more trepidation about the integrity of the ballot.
It will not only take action on your part, but it will also take some political fortitude. You see, most of the fraud originates in and around racial and ethnic minorities that vote Democrat, so if you actually propose these reforms, you’re going to hear caterwauling from Democrat party shills about racism, disenfranchisement, intimidation and so forth, though it will be these ills that these proposals are looking to solve. Keep in mind that they will make these charges because any effort to squelch vote fraud will have the net effect of making it harder for Democrats to win national majorities and for non-whites to defeat whites. (Recall that at least 3 million illegal alien Hispanics voted in 2000, and this is the biggest reason Bush didn’t win the meaningless “popular vote” that year.) Voter fraud tends to benefit black Democrats over white Democrats in big cities, Democrats over Republicans in general, and establishment Republicans over populist Republicans in primary races, (Bush 41 out and outright stole a primary win from Pat Buchanan in 1992, can’t remember which state), so you might very well get a lot of blowback from plutocratic Republicans should you propose these measures.
This act should replace and supplant the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In fact, it will be more fair than VRA, because VRA only applied to certain states and jurisdictions with “histories” of discrimination and voter intimidation. The Effectiveness of the Vote Act would apply to all jurisdictions, and have Federal election police at every polling place, not just those in certain states.
Thank you for your time.
(15) If the agreed-upon procedure requires that some thing (paper ballots, electronic boxes, etc.) be transferred to a central counting station, then they should be transferred from the polling place to the required locations by law enforcement officers, who will take the objects at the first moment they are able. This will prevent corrupt black poll workers and ACORN thugs from trying to fool around with the system and punch extra votes for Democrats/Obama.
(16) There should be a new Federal law enforcement agency created, relating to election issues. Officers of such an agency should be at every polling place, and should have the power to make arrests for voting and suffrage related issues, either those that happen at the polling place on the day(s) of the election, or past election related issues. However, they should not have the power to make arrests for matters other than voting issues. That would be the one concession I would grant to the civil rights crowd.
(17) An E-Verify system should be used to check on the immigration status of those who want to register to vote. Obviously, illegal aliens aren’t allowed to vote. And such a system should bypass the pro-illegal alien Hispanic/Democrat/liberal election authorities in illegal-heavy states like California.
(18) Based on the likelihood that the current system has illegal aliens registered to vote, and has a lot of people double-registered in different jurisdictions, everyone who wants to vote should be made to re-register when the new scheme is all set, even if they have registered before under the current flawed system.
(19) The U.S. Justice Department should “test” the system, not only on election days, but at other times. For instance, they could enlist the help of Foreign nationals and ask them to attempt to register to vote, ask those under the age of 18 to try to register to vote, they could give permission to people who live in one jurisdiction and actually vote there to attempt to vote in another jurisdiction, to make sure that they can’t vote again b/c the system already shows them as having voted. Ask qualified adults not registered to vote to register in a jurisdiction not their own. Ask qualified adults not registered to vote to register to vote where they really do live then try to do so somewhere else. Ask a qualified adult to try to register to vote using DOJ-provided fake documentation. Ask convicted felons to try to register to vote. Have someone who lives in a precinct that has a special election one day to travel to another state and vote their local ballot from that other state on days when the voting is open, as they should be able to. Of course, they should have DOJ letters on hand, to show the Federal election police that they’re testers and not real crooks. Any way possible that the system could be gamed is what the DOJ should try to do, to make sure it can’t be compromised.
(20) I said above that felons shouldn’t be able to vote, but I am open to compromise. There are four options: (1) The FL/KY paradigm; felons are not allowed to vote at all. (2) The policy of most states, felons can vote as long as they’re not incarcerated or on probation. (3) Felons can vote as long as they’re not incarcerated, but can vote if they’re on probation. (4) Felons should be allowed to vote, even if they’re incarcerated. Whatever we do, it should apply to all states. If I favor any compromise that allows felons to vote, it should be #2. However, if we choose any option but #4, then DOJ “testers” will have to pay or fete convicted felons to attempt to register to vote when they legally can’t (whatever that paradigm is), to make sure the system works. As a reward, they can have a few months lopped off their probation.
(21) There is a lot of discussion in 2010 about Democrat attempts to suppress the military absentee vote in IL and NY. With my system, there would never be any such worries, because electronic voting machines can be put on overseas (or even domestic) military bases, and American embassies and consulate offices in other countries. You would vote your American home precinct on the election day(s).