America’s vote fraud epidemic

Prosecutors filed charges in vote fraud cases this year from the West Coast to the East Coast and in all the regions in between.  Regardless of the criminal penalties the practice is alive and well in the 21st century.  The dead even rose in Ohio to cast votes in the 2008 election.   

Often the basis for jokes, it should not be forgotten that vote fraud is a serious problem.  An American is stripped of her civil rights every time vote fraud occurs.  The injury is felt when her legally cast vote is cancelled out by the fraudulently cast vote.  This leads to the core American belief of “one person, one vote” becoming a myth and places the outcomes of elections in doubt as vote fraud pervades our election process.  Contrary to the belief of some, vote fraud is not a victimless crime.

Since the start of this century, a myriad of characters have engaged in concerted efforts to steal elections by way of vote fraud.  In 2000, there was the New York socialite using cigarettes to encourage the less fortunate to vote for Al Gore.  Arising from the 2008 elections, there have been prosecutions of college students who voted multiple times in the general election for president. In 2008, even fictional characters attempted to get in on the act.  In Orange County, Florida, an ACORN stamped voter registration application for Mickey Mouse made its appearance at the local supervisor of elections office.  The supervisor’s office rejected the registration.

Following the 2004 general election, former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker co-chaired the Commission on Federal Election Reform and investigated election-related issues.  The commission’s report found instances of vote buying, false voter registrations, voting by non-citizens, multiple voting, absentee ballot fraud, and voting by felons.  The commission reported that vote fraud does exist, and that an increase in government agency staffing was necessary to properly investigate and prosecute vote fraud.

Americans must take it upon themselves to restore integrity in the election process.  This will require the implementation of safeguards such as photo identification requirements, an adequate period for elections officials to verify voter registrations before the elections, and a close eye on the abuse of absentee voting. It is up to us as a people to ensure that every legally cast vote counts.

Professor Woodruff is a law professor and lawyer in Florida.