David Frum December 7th, 2000 at 12:00 am
it were up to the District of Columbia government, I’d be a registered D.C.
voter. That sounds reasonable, except for this: I’m a Canadian citizen.
Nevertheless, when I moved into the district and signed up for a D.C. driver’s
license, I was invited under the Clinton administration’s “motor
voter” law to register to vote. To get the license, I needed to produce
proof of residencyÊ–Êin my case, the deed to my house. To get the
vote, I wasn’t asked for anything at all. If I had not told the registrar
myself of my ineligibility, the permanent Democratic majority in the nation’s
capital would have been shaved by one.
that story in mind as Democratic lawyers argue that absentee ballots in
Seminole County should be discarded because Republican officials filled in
incomplete information by hand on their registered voters’ ballot applications.
(The Democrats had done the same thing by preprinting their voters’ applications
and then sending the application to the voters for them to mail in.)
to the Miami Herald, at least 445 disqualified felons cast ballots in Palm
Beach County. An unknown but substantial number of non-citizens appear to have
voted in Miami-Dade: The “motor voter” law that nearly enfranchised
me seems to have succeeded in enfranching many hundreds of thousands of other
non-naturalized aliens nationwide.
1996, Vice President Al Gore oversaw a hasty naturalization program that added
1 million aliens to the voter rolls before their criminal records could be
checked. After the election, it turned out that at least 18,000 of them had
been convicted of crimes that made them ineligible for citizenship.
by non-naturalized citizens appears to occur most often in California: In 1996
in Orange County, Democrat Loretta Sanchez upset Republican Bob Dornan in a
congressional race in which activist Hispanic organizations conducted
registration drives among non-citizens. But other kinds of fraud occur
nationwide. In northeastern cities, candidates pay “walking around”
money to precinct leaders to distribute to potential supporters. In St. Louis
only this year, municipal Democrats kept the polls open longer than permitted
by state law, helping the Democratic ticket to rack up the votes it needed to
offset Republican majorities in the rest of the state. And of course the last
Miami mayoral election was overturned in the courts because absentee ballot
fraud corrupted the results.
of course it’s possible that some of these improperly registered people vote
Republican. But the vast preponderance support the Democrats: In fact, 80
percent of the 445 vote-casting Palm Beach County felons were registered as
the last month, Gore supporters have complained that the antiquated voting
machinery in the country’s most strongly Democratic counties and cities may
have cost their man the election. Quite possibly that’s true. But it’s also
true that this same antiquated machinery — and the lax procedures that govern
the use of that machineryÊ–Êaids the voter fraud that in years past
Democratic candidates have exploited.
election proves that America needs new voting machines. But the country also
needs a new voting ethic, one more intolerant of fraud, chicanery and
illegality. It should not be regarded as a civil rights offense — as it now is
— for voting officials to demand identification and proof of citizenship at
the polling place. Vote-buying should not be shrugged off as some romantic legacy
of the 19th century: It should be investigated and prosecuted. Local officials
who refuse to cooperate with state programs to purge the voter rolls of
ineligible votersÊ–Êas the Palm Beach County Democrats
refusedÊ–Êshould be liable for prosecution.
the meantime, every Democrat who appears on the cable chat shows to express
shock about the infractions of Seminole County should be asked to explain how
he managed to contain his outrage about voter fraud in years past.
has alleged any fraud in Seminole. Nobody has alleged that the people who voted
were ineligible to vote or that they were paid to vote or that they did not
cast their ballots themselves. Compared with the Democratic counties of
FloridaÊ–Êand the nationÊ–ÊSeminole looks as clean as