There is ample debate over whether widespread voter fraud is a national problem, but the nation’s chief executive has maintained that voter fraud probably cost him the popular vote last November. Early on in the administration, the president established a Commission on Election Integrity, warning Americans that safeguarding the voting process is critical.
“We also need to keep the ballot box safe from illegal voting and believe me — you take a look at what’s registering, folks – they like to say ‘oh, Trump, Trump, Trump’ — take a look at what’s registering,” the president said in January. “We’re going to protect the integrity of the ballot box and we’re going to defend the votes of the American citizen, so important.”
But as the commission begins its work, its requests for information from states has been met with a firewall of opposition and noncompliance. At last count, 47 states have said they will not comply with aspects of the the commission’s requests. Today, New Jersey’s Division of Elections joined that list:
“To date, no information has been released, nor will any future information be released that is not publically [sic] available or does not follow the appropriate legal process for information requests,” said a statement from the division announced today.
In other words, no thanks.
Asked if he thought there was rampant voter fraud going on in this country, Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll said, “Well, define rampant. I mean, the fact of the matter is that one illegal vote is too many.”
Carroll says he’s seen his share of voter fraud and thinks a commission to guard against voter fraud is not a bad idea.
“Do I believe it’s common? Not especially. Do I believe it happens in person? Probably very rarely,” he said. “But it strikes me that the precautions that can be taken to prevent that from happening are easy and there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason not to do them.”
The ACLU-NJ‘s Alexander Shalom says rampant voter fraud is mythology.
“Republican secretaries of state, Democratic governors, Republican governors, Democratic secretaries of state, everyone has said no because they recognize two fundamental truths,” he explained. “First, they recognize that the voter fraud that the commission is seeking to ferret out is a myth, and second, they recognize that there’s really serious private information the commission is trying to get a hold of, Social Security numbers, that they’re not making any promise to safeguard. We want elections to be fair; we want elections to be transparent, but voter fraud is not the problem, and this is not the solution.”
Privacy advocates say turning over names, birth dates, addresses, affiliations, voting history and the last four digits of Social Security numbers to the federal government is bad enough, but the commission says that all of it will be made public.
“New Jersey should have no business giving our voter rolls to this guy,” said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, “and by the way, it’s not exactly a profile in courage to stand up to him. Louisiana has stood up to him. Other red states have said, we’re not going to do this.”
All this concern about ballot security, you’d think people were pushing each other out of the way to get into a voting booth. But, in New Jersey, our most recent primary election last month drew 13 percent of voters, which is actually up from 2013, when that number was just nine percent.