Election integrity is something everyone should be concerned about. Both parties have an interest in ensuring the public has confidence in the process. If not, it is destructive to the very core of the democratic process. The reason: if elections are not “honest”, what is the point of elections and without elections how can you have “democracy”, that is rule by the people? And, if not rule by the representatives of the people, elected by the consent of voters, by what standard can the “legitimacy” of governance be determined in a Constitutional Republic?
We know that Democrats too are concerned about election integrity because of their loud complaints in the first two decades of the 21st century. However, now they want to demonize anyone who questions the process.
Comparatively speaking, election integrity is even more important than the investigation of the unfortunate trespassing at the Capitol building, but it does not generate near the concern by the press, government officials, tech oligarchs, and Republicans like Liz Cheney. That event applied to just one Presidential election. Election integrity applies to all elections, at all levels of government.
It is also somewhat disgusting that those that suggest that talking about election integrity is a “threat to democracy” try mightily to shut down the discussion. That is not going to work. We want to discuss it anyway.
What is an honest election? At one time, this seemed rather easy to answer. The results of the election should be determined by the votes cast. That seems simple, but the last election has shown how truly complicated it can be.
Let’s start with the voter. Can we all agree that voters should be citizens? No, some jurisdictions want non-citizens to vote and some resist the presentation of any kind of identification that proves both age and citizenship requirements, and additionally proof the voter is currently alive.
Can we agree that the voter casting the vote should be alive? No, the system often does not reliably verify signatures and ties those signatures to a physical address, which proves the person is who they say they are, and presumably alive and voting only once. A dead person apparently can vote by mail much easier than showing up to the polls and voting in person. That much has been established. Why they always vote Democrat remains a mystery.
Can we agree that people should only vote once and that my vote should not count more than your vote? A recent study indicated that is difficult to determine that the number of votes cast equals the number of voters. The study found a 2.89% gap between the number of ballots cast and the number of voters. In a number of jurisdictions, the difference could determine the outcome of the election.
Can we agree on how the vote should be exercised? No, we can’t seem to agree on that. It used to be you voted on one day, election day, and you did so at a polling place where at least there was some supervision and representatives of both parties present to see the supervision was fairly applied. This was standard procedure for a number of years, even when transportation was much more primitive. You voted at the polls on election day.
Today, a good deal of voting, sometimes the majority is done by mail-in and can be spaced over a number of days. And, the votes can be delivered into unsupervised drop boxes, where ballot stuffing can be done. Every voter should see the documentary film, 2000 Mules to get a sense of the extent of the problem.
Today, voting can even begin before campaigns are officially concluded, which allows voters to exercise their franchise often ignorant of late-breaking news, debate results, and opposition research, that might have influenced their thinking and choices. For example, polls indicate a substantial number of voters would have changed their vote, had they known about Hunter Biden and his criminal activities. But the news came after many had already voted.
A process that goes on over days with geographically spaced and unsupervised depositories is just an invitation to defraud the process.
Mail-in voting destroys the important “chain of custody”, which is a way of saying the voter casts a ballot, and that ballot gets to the counting center with no opportunity to change that vote, augment that vote with fake ballots, or remove that vote from the stream of ballots. The chain of custody is very important because it can stop a lot of voter fraud. Mail-in voting is thus rife with opportunities to manipulate, alter, or suppress the actual voting result.
Voting rolls should be regularly updated so people who have moved or died, cannot have their names entered into the process. This will reduce ballot stuffing by “mules.”
Once the votes get to a counting center, ideally, they should be counted by hand or by machines not connected to the internet. Machine counting can be quite accurate. For example, coins and bills are counted at great speed and with great accuracy by financial institutions, but there is no need to connect such analog machines to the internet where software can be hacked or manipulated. Representatives of both parties should be present when tabulations are collected from accurate high-speed analog counting devices.
Getting results to the press needs to take second place to accuracy in the vote count.
Can we all agree that the system should be one man, one vote and that all votes should be counted as accurately as possible? That would seem to be a no-brainer.
Here we will offer perhaps a controversial suggestion. The integrity of the system is a more important value to society than the convenience of the voter, but make voting as easy as possible. Therefore, make election day a holiday from work, so all can participate without great sacrifice to work or home responsibility. Require the voter to show up in person, with ID, and cast his/her vote on election day, not weeks before.
Convenience is a relative condition. For decades I voted at the polls on election day and got addicted to the convenience of mail-in voting. If people could walk, ride a horse or wagon, and get to a distant voting center in our frontier past, it is hardly inconvenient to give a person one task in a day they are getting off, to take a short drive in an air-conditioned bus or car, to vote in person at a polling station. With just one task to perform on a special day of civic responsibility, even those wheelchair-bound should find no difficulty getting to the polls. Usually, there are plenty of volunteers from political parties willing to help get out their mobility-challenged members to vote.
There is no need for independent parties to “harvest” or vote on behalf of another person.
We asked earlier, what is an honest election, and we have talked mostly about the process of voting itself, the security of those votes, and their accurate tabulation.
Beyond those mechanics, what is an honest election process?
In an ideal world, you should maximize freedom of assembly and the free press to see that the public is educated about the policy positions of the candidates and that they make informed decisions based on that information. That also presumes a fairly high degree of knowledge on the part of citizens so they understand their own political system (civics) and know a bit of history about their nation. But there is no realistic way to keep ignorant, bigoted, or uninformed people from voting. If government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, the quality of government will be roughly equivalent to the quality of the governed.
In this realm, there is huge room for improvement. Public-school teachers who teach civics and history often do a poor job. I can recall a few exceptional teachers, but many made these important subjects just about as boring as possible. School choice seems the only alternative to getting better-educated citizens in all subject matters.
However, one thing seems clear from the last election cycle. We now know that government agencies interfered with the flow of information to voters. A high-ranking FBI agent just was forced to resign by deliberately suppressing information about criminal activity in the family of a Presidential candidate. Also, several intelligence and law enforcement agencies conspired with one political party that paid for bogus intelligence, acquired from foreign intelligence operatives, to try to change the outcome of an election.
In a free society, we can’t stop politicians from lying. We can’t stop the press from lying, although competition can help in that regard. And likely, we will never be able to stop leaks from government agencies to their pet press outlets. But clearly, government agencies should not be allowed to put their thumbs, elbows, and feet directly on the electoral scales. Nor should government agencies recruit, intimidate, or otherwise manipulate social media platforms into suppressing some news and releasing others.
Our Constitution forbids the government from suppressing the freedom of speech. That should apply as well to media companies that act as agents of the government.
This last cycle also showed that private companies also were allowed to spend millions of dollars in payments to election officials and private organizations, supposedly to improve the election process.
Government officials should run our elections, not private companies such as FaceBook. To date, 24 states have passed legislation to ban “Zuckbucks”, but not all states have done so.
From what we have described, it should be clear we at present do not have an “honest” election process. The current system is full of deficiencies that can be exploited. Voting rolls are often shoddy, the chain of custody is questionable, and the identification of voters is sketchy.
Do we have an honest electoral process, including a free flow of information and an informed electorate? Probably not on both counts.
At the very least, government intelligence agencies should not be interfering in the process by either planting bogus stories or suppressing real stories. Certainly, to actively conspire with one political party is unethical and cause for dismissal.It likely should be illegal. Government is there for all of us, not just some of us.
A Congressional review of our intelligence agencies, somewhat like the Church committee of the Viet Nam War period seems justified. It appears they took an active role not in cheating on vote counting, but in altering the political outcome through information manipulation and an outright conspiracy with the Democrat party and foreign intelligence operatives.
If the voting process is not secure, and if the election process, specifically the free flow of information is not operative, then you can legitimately say our election process was compromised.
That is not a statement “inciting insurrection”, it is simply saying election integrity is in fact the most important factor supporting our democratic system. Integrity applies to all elections, not just those with electors needed to certify Presidential elections.
It is the enemies of democracy who want to shut the discussion down and block attempts to improve the integrity of our elections.
Our elections likely will never be perfect, but they could be a lot more secure and fair than they currently are.
By all means, let’s have an open discussion and let all views be considered and stop this nonsense that concerned voters are “semi-fascists” any more than concerned parents are “domestic terrorists.”
Our democratic institutions are too sacred to be soiled by this kind of demagoguery.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.