This column originally appeared in the New York Post on October 6, 2008.
ELECTION Day this year may bring the kind of chaos you expect from a category-five hurricane – with radical groups sending the nation into a protracted legal battle even worse than the mess back in 2000. To prevent it, we must act now.
Developments in several states create the possibility that the 2008 vote could result in “Election Month,” rather than Election Day. Court rulings on various absentee-voting procedures – along with early voting and other new forms of balloting – open the door to widespread abuses that could undermine the election. The possibility of voter fraud or voting irregularities on a massive scale could provide a multistate repeat of Florida 2000.
A perfect example is Ohio. Last Monday the Ohio Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, interpreted Ohio law to allow for people to register to vote and cast an absentee ballot on the same day.
(As the three dissenters noted, this directly contradicts Ohio’s Constitution, which requires that a person register to vote 30 days in advance of actually casting that vote. But the Ohio Supreme Court is the last word on Ohio state law.)
So now the Obama campaign is using buses to take tens of thousands of people to go register and cast same-day votes. Some media reports say that the Obama camp hopes to get hundreds of thousands of votes this way.
Ohio decided the election in 2004, and may do it again this year. President Bush won the state by 118,000 votes – just over 10 votes per precinct. Flip just 60,000 votes, and we’d be in the middle of President John Kerry’s re-election contest.
Enter ACORN, a group notorious for its extremist approach to pushing “social change.” Criminal investigations of ACORN personnel for felony voter fraud are under way or completed in about a dozen states, with multiple indictments and even convictions.
Sen. Barack Obama’s record of working with ACORN dates back to before he ever ran for office, and continues today. His campaign has channeled more than $800,000 into ACORN’s political-action arm for election activities. This relationship alone deserves far more scrutiny than it has gotten so far.
With ACORN and similar groups flooding swing states like Ohio with teams of operatives, there is a possibility for voter fraud on a scale never before seen in this country. (ACORN alone has perhaps 100,000 members in 50 US cities.)
As a nation, we must act now, before Election Day, to prevent voter fraud. If we don’t, we could again enter December still fighting about who the next president will be. Imagine Florida-style litigation going on in multiple states, with countless disputes about who is a legal resident and where their ballot was cast, and you’ll see what we could be facing.
The key is to closely scrutinize all of these activities beforehand – so that we do not find ourselves in a chaotic situation after the polls close.
The right to vote is a fundamental right. It is violated when a qualified voter is denied his or her vote – and also when a legal vote is canceled out by an illegal vote.
Voter fraud is a crime against democracy itself, because voting is the only means by which the people choose those who govern them – and hold them accountable. The voting process therefore deserves the most stringent protections to make sure that every legal vote is counted, and that only legal votes are counted.
Authorities must act quickly to safeguard the integrity of the voting process before Nov 4.
Ken Blackwell is a former Ohio secretary of state and a fellow at the American Civil Rights Union. Ken Klukowski is a policy consultant and legal analyst from Indiana.