Friday, October 15, 2004

Registration Fraud Scandal Deepens: What Is the Solution?

Sproul & Associates are at center of voter-registration probe in Nevada by the FBI and in Oregon by the Attorney General. I have high hopes that, if nothing else, some whistleblowers will emerge out of Sproul's criminal enterprise.

Whatever happens, the ciritical issue is whether the victims of this alleged widespread fraud will lose their Constitutional right to vote. What sort of judicial rememdy is going to be available to all those voters who have been violated by these thugs? The only equitable solution would be to allow these voters' registration despite any state deadlines. I don't see such relief being granted to what could potentially be thousands of voters in the next two weeks. Whether such a remedy would even be available is an open, and very troubling, question. There likely will still be litigation pending on this matter at the time of the election. The actual harm will not come, nor will that harm be particularized, until these citizens go to vote and find that they have to vote a provisional ballot because they are not on the voter roles. Only when that provisional ballot is rejected because the voter is not registered would a judicial remedy - such as forcing the state to count that voter's ballot - become available. This could be days, even weeks, following the election. If the vote is close in a state affected by this fraud and neither candidate is able to achieve 270 without that state or states, we are in another 2000 debacle. We saw at that time that the nation has no patience for an extended election dispute process in a Presidential election. People want certainty sooner, not later, and are less concerned about an election's legitimacy than they are about its speed and finality. Another clouded and illegitimate election could spell disaster for the American political system, but that is a risk the GOP is more than willing to take if it gives them another bite at the apple in race they've lost narrowly.

One thing is certain, the GOP knew where to most effectively strike to make an election contest difficult to sustain legally and politically. Voter registration is clearly the achilles tendon of the system, and a spot on which no one had their hairy eyeball this cycle. E-voting, and purge lists topped the agenda for those who were interested in electoral integrity this cycle. Not voter registration, except for the kooks convinced that illegal aliens where voting fraudulently in large numbers.

America is very odd in the way it places the burden of registration on the citizen. We only create a presumption in favor of upholding voter's right to vote once the voter takes an affirmative step to register. Most advanced democratic nations place the burden on the state to register all eligible voters as soon as they become eligible to vote. In other words, there is no voter registration as we know it; requiring private parties or voters to expend resources and efforts to register voters is unheard of. Everyone who is eligible to vote by citizenship and age can walk into any polling place any time after their majority and be assured that they can excercise thier most basic constitutional right. Why can't you do that here? Because the vast majority of those who are not registered to vote would vote Democrat. The Republican party would cease to be a viable political force on the day a law requiring the states to take responsibility to register everyone took effect. Such laws could pass in Democratically controlled states, but not GOP controlled ones. There is a step short of such an state-responsible system however, and that is Elections Day Registration. EDR allows the citizen to register to vote at the polling place on election day, ensuring that no one eligible to vote is every involuntarily disfranchised by a failure to register early, or by the sort of fraud that Sproul and his gang seem to have carried out. Legislators in every state should introduce EDR bills across the nation in a coordinated campaign. It's time that half of America stopped being ineligible to vote by design.

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