A Federal Takeover of Elections?

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


voteOn March 28, President Obama issued Executive Order 13639, establishing a Presidential Commission on Election Administration “in order to promote the efficient administration of Federal elections and to improve the experience of all voters.” The ostensible premise behind this effort is the idea that some voters were forced to wait too long in line to cast their ballots. Yet a growing number of critics see something entirely different: they see this as an attempt to initiate a federal takeover of elections.

Former Justice Department official J. Christian Adams characterizes the president’s effort as a “federal solution in search of a problem,” which as foreshadowed in Obama’s State of the Union address. He spoke of a woman named Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Florida resident forced to show up twice on October 28, the first day of early voting, due to the long lines she encountered. “When she arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours,” Obama said, “And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say.”

Like many of Obama’s efforts to tug at the emotional heartstrings of Americans, the devil is in the details. In general, the lines on the first day of early voting are usually much longer than those encountered on Election Day. This was confirmed by an MIT study that revealed the average wait for voting on Election Day was seven minutes shorter than the wait on other days. Moreover, Florida is somewhat notorious for loading up ballots with lengthy referendums that voters ought to review before they show up to the polls, but don’t in many cases. Adams also points out that lengthy waits to vote “occur frequently in large cities where elections are administered by Democrats.”

On his website, he gets to the crux of the issue. “The federal government is forever searching for more ways to snatch power from the states; that’s the nature of the beast,” he explains. “No Republicans should acquiesce to another federal power grab over state elections– dispersing power over elections means that no one entity, or person, can easily manipulate the process. The Founders knew that decentralized control over the process helps preserve individual liberty.”

Whether manipulating the process is part of the agenda remains to be seen. The Board’s two chairmen, election lawyers Robert Bauer and Ben Ginsberg, represented Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively, during the 2012 election. Obama contends that Ginsberg, a Republican, would give the Board credibility and ensure its bipartisan nature. The president will also name the seven other members of the Board. According to the order, they will be people with “knowledge about or experience in the administration of State or local elections, as well as representatives of successful customer service-oriented businesses, and any other individuals with knowledge or experience.”

Beginning with its first meeting, the Board will have six months to submit recommendations to the president. One month after that report is submitted, the Board will disband.

Adams remains wary, noting that the Justice Department’s “controversy-plagued Civil Rights Division” has provided “government-funded cover” to leftist activists who have called for expansive federal mandates to “fix a problem that is not widespread.” “If the Democrats name wild-eyed activists to the commission, we’ll know what the commission is really all about,” warns Adams.

It may not take that long. Democrats have introduced several bills in Congress that would effectively usurp state election law. Provisions include requiring states to set up a 15-day early voting period, the imposition of a one-hour limit on the time voters must wait to cast their ballot, a requirement allowing online registration, and one permitting convicted criminals to vote after they have completed their sentences.

The glaring omission? Requiring or allowing states to require photo ID for voting.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) addressed that ideologically inspired discrepancy. “[Obama's] Justice Department tragically has been the most partisan Justice Department this country has seen. They have repeatedly fought common sense voter integrity policies like voter ID that serve, as the U.S. Supreme Court has said, to protect and ensure the integrity of our democratic system,” he told CNS News.

There is little question that Cruz is correct. Prior to the 2012 election, the DOJ sued Pennsylvania, Texas and South Carolina to prevent them from imposing photo ID requirements for voting. The latter two states were sued under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, that requires states with a history of racial discrimination to “pre-clear” any changes to their procedures with the DOJ. A suit filed by Shelby County, Alabama, challenging the validity of Section  is currently before U.S. Supreme Court. A ruling is expected in late June.

Moreover, while both Obama and Holder remain focused on minority “disenfranchisement,” they have blithely ignored the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act that required voter service facilities to be set up on military bases to provide troops with access to voter registration and absentee ballot forms. According to a Defense Department report released two months before the 2012 election, only 114 of the 229 installation voting assistance offices (IVAOs) were operational.

That Obama and the DOJ are more concerned with possible voter disenfranchisement than actual disenfranchisement speaks volumes.

Thus, it is no surprise that the DOJ announced it would monitor South Carolina’s special election that took place yesterday. It was initiated to fill the spot left by former Rep. Tim Scott, who was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to replace Senator Jim DeMint, who resigned to head the Heritage Foundation. The race pitted scandal-scarred former Republican Governor Mark Sanford against Democratic newcomer Elizabeth Colbert Busch. The DOJ gave no reason for the monitoring, but the vote will take place under South Carolina’s new law requiring photo ID to vote. The disenfranchisement theme was highlighted in a campaign ad released by Busch. “Somebody doesn’t want African Americans to vote, and it doesn’t take Shaft to figure out who,” says a narrator while Isaac Hayes’ soundtrack from Shaft plays in the background. “Tuesday, May 7th, is your chance to show them they can’t get away with it.”

Moreover, given Holder’s speech before Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in April, it is likely that voter disenfranchisement remains his primary concern. He vowed to aggressively enforce federal voting rights laws–no matter how Supreme Court rules on Section 5. “As we await the court’s decision, I want to assure you that no matter the outcome, the Department of Justice will remain committed to the aggressive and appropriate enforcement of all voting and civil rights protections, including every part of the Voting Rights Act,” he promised.

Thus, no matter what the administration claims about bipartisanship, it is impossible to ignore the context within which this Commission has been created. Adams reminds Americans that since the Motor Voter law passed in 1993, the scope of where people can now register to vote has expanded to “food stamp offices, welfare offices and even heroin addiction treatment facilities” even as the part of the same law requiring voter rolls to be purged of ineligible voters “has gathered dust over the last two decades.”

The ideological divide is clear. For Democrats, voter turnout, irrespective of procedural integrity, is their first priority. For Republicans, the integrity of the process itself, which they consider best protected by photo ID, is paramount. Given the ideological bent of the current administration, there is little question that any attempt to federalize the election process would prioritize voter turnout, even as the effort to investigate and prosecute voter fraud would likely be marginalized.

Despite this reality, the left should be equally wary of allowing the federal government to control elections. No political party retains control of Washington, D.C. in perpetuity, and to use a familiar adage, “what goes around comes around.” Furthermore, Americans are far better served by 50 separate entities, aka the states, vying to improve voting procedures on their own. Individual states are far more familiar with the details and issues related to voting than any one-size-fits-all bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. could ever be.

Using the phony crisis of long lines as the impetus to create a Presidential Commission on Election Administration smacks of this administration’s “never let a crisis go to waste” mentality, even as the genuine crisis of disenfranchising those who put their lives on the line for the nation is calculatingly ignored. In short, tyranny requires centralized control. Freedom does not.

Seventy-four percent of Americans support photo ID as a prerequisite to voting. Under the “Mission” section of this executive order, there are 11 items the president considers vital to improving the election process. Photo ID isn’t one of them.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    NOT only are Obama Inc's power grabs cemented via Executive orders, but by fiddling with the Constitution – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/01/07/fiddling-with

    If it looks like a power grab…

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • Defcon 4

      I wonder if the zero will declare himself president for life?

      • kafir4life

        He won't present it that way of course. I don't think that President Stinky (BO) Benghazi has any intention of leaving. That thing is garbage, and he'll figure out a way to halt the scheduled pickup in January 2017. "Something" will happen…..some "event" that will subject us to martial law, a suspension of the Constitution (just until things calm down and people are thinking clearly), and the installation of our new tyrant in thief.
        He set the stage at an Ohio college last week by asking new graduates to not be afraid of government and tyranny.

  • Brujo Blanco

    In the tradition of the dictator Hitler it very well may be that the dictator Obama may seize power. If he is unable to change the constitution he very well may simply take the power. So far he has taken advantage of.every crisis on his watch.

  • Asher

    Everything Obama has done has been designed to change, destroy, and get rid of everything that is good about America!

  • jacob

    This story of Obama about this 102 years old lady made to wait for hours to vote is plain absolute
    and unadulterated HOGWASH and he can tell it to his grandmother because, given my wife's
    health condition practically wheelchair confined which made problematic to get her to the polling
    place and vote, which is why we opted for the "absentee voter" fashion, SHE WAS ALWAYS GIVEN
    PREFERENCE TO GO STRAIGHT TO VOTE AND NOT WAIT IN LINE LIKE THE REST OF ABLE PEOPLE….
    What Congress should fight tooth and nail is for a reform to impose the nationwide identity card as
    it exists in the rest of the civilized world and some of the uncivilized as well, in which on top of the
    bearer's picture, signature and personals, there is also his thumbprint….and also the use of an
    indelibly ink to guarantee that the voter will not be able to vote at 100 different polling places as it
    is done probably now as per confession of some who are registered to vote in many places…..
    This is what this Obama idea of elections reform could be opening the door for, as I see no valid
    reason why would any legislator oppose such fair measure…. and our ineffable Attorney General
    would have no grounds to claim that such requirement would "disenfranchise poor people from
    voting"…….
    RIGHT ????

  • onecornpone

    Executive Order 13639…

    King O has spoken, and so shall it be.

    Appointing a smarmy (R) will lend his brainchild credibility don'cha know.

    Where is our individual liberty, freedom and rule of law?
    WHERE is our constitutional republic?

  • Infovoyeur

    (1) Some of the comments may reflect quasi-paranoia as to Big Govt seizing power.
    (2) But other comments PLUS the article, seem to reflect scrupulous, thorough, meticuous, dedicated "watchdog" initiative to, yes, save and protect the entity called nation, country, etc. "Price of liberty, eternal vigilance." Caretaking, harm-preventing (traits usu. attributed to Li-be-rals, not those "Conservatives," hmmmm…)
    (3) Hey I DO LIKE the notion of National Identity Card–as described. Seems secure, efficient, also not oppressive or having negative consequences. Is this accurate? If so, why not instituted?
    Thanks, "later"…

  • http://twitter.com/stanthedog @stanthedog

    It would be prudent to consider anything regarding the liberal agenda as coming from the White House. Cannot trust the Office Holder one bit.

  • BS77

    Elections results are now based on MEDIA indoctrination,, mountains of CASH, the corporations, the PACs….and oh yes, the dumb Sheeple who couldn't tell you anything factual about the candidate of their choice. Mostly, elections have become a theatre of the absurd, with false promises, Hollywood debates, flashing cameras, jumbo tron screens, cascades of confetti……it is something out of a George Orwell novel…or one by Kurt Vonnegut….Hard not to be cynical.

    • Chris

      It's time to start being creative, or there may not be much time left period.

  • http://www.clarespark.com clarespark

    Just a reminder that Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four was a warning that the British Labour Party was headed in the same direction as Stalin's Soviet Union. And yet UK Social Democrats have annexed him and his work to their project, shamelessly. See http://clarespark.com/2012/10/15/orwell-power-and…. New Dealers in America had the same ambitions. See for starters "Orwell, Power, and the 'Totalitarian' State."

  • aposematic

    The farther anything gets away from the American people's kitchen tables the worse everything gets… The Leftists always want everything as far away from those kitchen tables as they can force them to be. Conclusion: The Leftists want everything in the American people's lives to get worse and will do everything in their power to force worse to happen.

  • Killer63

    Here's a thought: do away with early voting. It's an encroachment on the law. I'm in my 60s and all my voting life, the voting day has been the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Over and out – that's the voting day. "Early" voting was only put in place so the media could report what they deem "results" and dissuade those who mght vote for a candidate who is other than the one for whom they've been told to tell people to vote

    • gee59

      Early voting is actually illegal under the Constitution. We are going to see a revolt against the government and it will be sooner than later

      • Defcon 4

        I'm beginning to think our federal government is so corrupt that what you propose is the only alternative to islamofascism.

        • gee59

          It is a scary thought – especially after serving in the US Army for 9 years. This government and that includes all 3 branches scares the hell out of me.

          They have nothing but contempt for the American citizens.

          I think Thomas Jefferson said it best – "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. "

  • itsy_bitsy

    Allowing Obama or the federal branch to manipulate or dictate the running of national elections is like putting the cat in charge of protecting mice! We desperately need to return to the way elections were handled years back! You should be allowed to vote on ONE DAY ONLY! You should be required, by law, to produce proof of who you are, and if foreign, that you are a citizen! Absentee voting needs tighter controls and limits, and military voting shall be counted regardless of when the ballots are received, if it means a declared winner is defeated, so be it!! The time has come for decent citizens to take back our country from radical and corrupt democrats!

  • Richard_Iowa

    I remember from way back when, in high school, when a thug and bulley picked on this skinny farm kid after school. A crowd gathered and the thug began to practice his craft. He postured, he threatened, he demeaned, he called the guy names – foul names, and this continued. I vividly remember when he shoved the skinny kid. Within seconds the bully was laying on his back having his face rearranged. Blood was everwhere and the thug had just gotten the "crap" beaten out of him. The skinny kid got up and walked away. I really don't remember him saying anything. He just dealt with the problem at hand.

  • Terri B.

    I voted absentee at my election board the week before the election. I waited at the most 6 minutes to vote. They can not ask you why you are voting absentee or ask you to prove why you can not vote on election day. If more republicans knew this they would also vote absentee, just like the millions of democrats. My greatest fear was realized on election day where as millions of republicans convinced themselves they were too busy to get out and vote. Educate yourselves on voting absentee and beat the Dems at their own game.

  • Don Lond

    Hey, I guess this little thing called voting is just one of those many social issues the GOP refuses to deal with as they circle the wagons around their money god…

  • tagalog

    The Constitution vests the responsibility for administering federal elections in the states. This issue has come up before. The Constitution is clear. The states have the sole power to administer federal elections. Period.

    The federal pretense that federal control of elections is necessary to shorten the wait time for voting hardly meets the "rational relationship" standard, much less the "compelling state interest" one.

  • Defcon 4

    Federal control of elections is necessary in order to ensure a correct outcome of the elections.