President Obama’s November 20th, historic action changes to our nation’s immigration policy will undoubtedly comply with the law of unintended consequences. 

The Heritage Foundation has defined well the shelf of tools useful in upending, perverting, and otherwise manipulating our elections. In most instances, they will be small-time crimes concocted to influence local elections, such as the 2004 mayoral race in East Chicago, Ind., which involved massive absentee ballot fraud. Or the Arkansas state legislator in 2011, who along with his father and two campaign workers, were convicted of vote fraud conspiracy when they bribed voters and destroyed ballots. 


These and so many others documented by The Heritage Foundation are important because what happens in local elections, multiplied many times over, ripples out to impact county, state, and national contests, the outcomes of which affect millions of people. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House, and the Migration Policy Institute, there are about 11.2 million illegal immigrants in this country, down from nearly 12.5 million in 2007. Of course, the economy had something to do with the downward drift, and so, the economy will have something to do with a strong upward tick, starting now, and in the next year or two, once the new policy takes hold. Of that group, the president says there will be some four to five million eligible to become legal members of our national family. In fact, will that number not be larger? 

Whatever multiple of millions is calculated, the new, documented group will have access to various forms of legitimate identification provided by state and local governments, and no matter how one might feel about the wisdom or legitimacy of the president’s plan, when those ID cards are issued, there will be no avoiding problems at the voting booth. 

Imagine the bureaucratic nightmares all across our land as state and local officials—who may be working with differing legal opinions regarding the president’s order—attempt to make sense out of the program. It is they who will be tasked with the on-the-ground local administration of this new policy, which, admittedly, may be temporary if Congress passes alternate legislation in 2015. Ah, the work, re-work, and the paperwork! 

Be that as it may, if there was ever a time when the states should inspect and as necessary, re-engineer their voting policies and practices to raise the integrity bar even higher, it is now. What about early and online voting methods, said to make the ballot box more accessible to more voters? Despite these and widespread absentee voting, many have decried the low turnout in the recent Mid-terms. In making it easier for voters who may not vote, are we not making it easier for election miscreants to steal the votes of those who do? And now, how do we ensure that only citizens vote? 

States with already tested and effective Voter ID laws will be miles ahead of the pack in the quest for election integrity. To those states that have not taken seriously the sanctity of their electoral processes, one might ask how they keep the confidence of the voting populace, already cynical about the venality of extra-legal national initiatives. 

When all else fails to steal an election, there’s massive electronic vote theft, of course. Hybrid (paper & digital) systems, with state-of-the-art, non duplicative encryption, routinely sampled (paper v. digital counts) and inspected by independent, qualified forensic accounting firms can go far in protecting our right to vote and have it count. Making sure that only eligible voters vote—only once—can restore the confidence of all Americans.           

So, who decides who votes in 2016? We do, but only with vigilance and oversight. 

Warren, author of the political thriller, “Turnover,” is a political observer with three decades of governmental and corporate experience.