It's not the people who vote that count; it's the people who count the votes.
Allegations of voting irregularities have been a staple of American politics since John Adams and Thomas Jefferson first squared off to succeed George Washington as president. Yet, it’s very possible that this year’s election could be about as dirty as any that we’ve seen in this country in many a decade. Emotions are high on both sides. Democrats know that the fate of their president’s agenda hangs in the balance, while many Republicans believe that unless voters send the administration a clear message, there will be no stopping the march toward European-style, nanny-state socialism. With the stakes this high, the temptation to rationalize fraud in the name of the greater good rises in proportion.
The Chicago machine that nurtured Barack Obama’s political career is legendary for its ability to manipulate an election. Indeed, cheating and fraud are such staples of Illinois politics that residents hardly notice any more. It is, of course, always interesting to hear a Chicago news-anchor provide the latest tally of calls to the “Election Fraud Hotline” and no doubt some wagers are won and lost among citizens once the final count is announced. But, for the most part, pay-offs, unregistered voters, dead voters, and all the rest are an accepted part of life in the Prairie State. We’re not proud of that, you’ll understand, we’ve simply come to accept that which we cannot change. This is the political culture that gave us a Barack Obama and, most importantly as far as this Election Day goes, brought political hucksters who believe that the “Chicago Way” is the only way to power.
We’ve already seen the signs, starting – appropriately enough – in Illinois. The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) requires states to mail absentee ballots to overseas troops, government employees and other Americans living abroad, at least 45 days prior to an election. Thirty five Illinois counties didn’t manage to make the deadline, which is bad enough, but the Department of Justice has declined to pursue any punitive action against the state or the counties in question. Now overseas voters do have other options, but – especially when it comes to the military – there is some question about how many potential voters are aware of those options. Moreover, the DOJ’s unwillingness to even slap anyone’s hand sends exactly the wrong message to the electorate and to other units of government who might also be tempted to flout the law.
Some Nevadans who participated in early voting in Clark County reported that Harry Reid’s name came up pre-checked on the screen when they were voting for Senator. Although no formal complaints have been filed, the allegation is still troubling, and all the more so because of the fact the Service Employees International Union is responsible for maintaining voting machines in Clark County. SEIU, which endorsed Reid and gave over ninety-five per cent of its campaign contributions in 2008 to Democrats, is hardly a neutral party. The union is indelibly tied to the Obama administration’s commitment to expanding the role of the public sector in American life. Whether SEIU tampered with voting machines or not, union members should never have been allowed anywhere near a device that so directly affects their future prospects.
Instances of purported fraud continue to pour in. The Pennsylvania Voter Assistance Office sent citizens letters encouraging them to apply for absentee ballots. A nice sentiment -- except that no such office exists. The letter says it was financed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Committee. A federal appeals court in Arizona rejected a state law requiring voters to demonstrate citizenship at the polls. The return address on 250 absentee-ballot applications in Bridgeport, Connecticut is 1238 North Avenue, which just happens to be a vacant lot. Daytona Beach City Commissioner Derrick Henry and Genesis Robinson, his campaign manager, face voter-fraud charges for allegedly completing 92 absentee-ballot applications with the names of Floridians who never requested them or who had moved away. There’s little doubt that we’ll see more and more of this sort of activity as we move toward Election Day.
The danger in this sort of behavior isn’t merely that it can skew an election, but that it further erodes the American soul. By ramming through unpopular bill after unpopular bill, the Obama administration has left a huge portion of the populace feeling powerless and disenfranchised. This election has thus become their moment to say “enough!” and to demand that the nation change direction. If these tens of millions of Americans find that their message didn’t get through next Tuesday, in other words, if Democrats somehow retain majorities in both the House and the Senate, those voters will be deeply disappointed and more concerned about the fate of the nation than ever. But, if these same voters perceive that their voices were silenced as a result of manipulation and fraud, the damage to the nation as a whole will be catastrophically polarizing. In spite of our well-earned reputation for cynicism when it comes to politics, the average American still believes that one person, one vote can make a difference. Take away that belief, and you undermine America’s faith in the democratic institutions that allow the citizenry to determine the direction of the country. Take away that faith from tens of millions of voters who demand to be heard, and America will become a much different nation indeed.