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VON SPAKOVSKY: How To Make Sure The 2020 Election Never Happens Again

To see what’s wrong with our election system, just look at all the claims and allegations being made in the litigation filed by the Trump campaign and other organizations contesting the outcome of the presidential election. Regardless of what happens with that challenge, state legislatures should take note of the underlying problems, which have existed for years, and finally do something about them — before we have our next set of state and federal elections.

The Heritage Foundation has an Election Fraud Database that provides a sampling of proven fraud cases from across the country. It highlights the many vulnerabilities in the election process that can be — and are — exploited by those willing to game the system. It is everything from non-citizens registering and voting, to vote-buying and submission of fraudulent absentee ballots, to individuals voting more than once because they are registered multiple times in the same state or are registered and voting in two different states (like former Democratic congressional candidate Wendy Rosen was caught doing in Maryland and Florida).

Anyone who doubts this type of activity can make a difference in an election should look at what happened this past summer in Patterson, N.J., where a new municipal election was ordered and four locals were charged with absentee ballot fraud. Or the 9th District congressional race in North Carolina that was overturned in 2018 due to absentee ballot fraud and illegal vote harvesting by a political consultant and six of his staffers, all of whom were criminally charged.

But it is not just intentional misconduct. It’s also the errors, mistakes, and incompetence of sloppy, inefficient systems that exacerbate all of these problems. Like state election officials not doing something as basic as checking the addresses of newly registered voters with county tax records to ensure they are really residential addresses where someone lives, as opposed to a vacant lot or a mall or a UPS store. Or modifying their registration software to detect multiple registrations by the same individual with only slight variations in his or her name, such as using a full middle name in one registration but only the first initial of that person’s middle name in a second registration. In many states, that will get you registered twice without election officials noticing, which will then allow you to vote twice with little chance of detection.

There are a whole series of steps that need to be taken by state legislators to fix these problems, and they should act in the upcoming legislative sessions that will start in many states in January 2021. It should be the states, not Congress, that address these issues, since the states are primarily responsible under our Constitution for administering elections.

There is no doubt they will run into opposition, and left-wing advocacy groups will sue to try to stop any reforms that would fix these problems and make it harder to cheat. States just need to be prepared to defend their reforms in court, the way states that have implemented voter ID laws have, usually successfully.

In fact, that is the first reform states need: requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote not just in-person as in Georgia and Indiana, but also for absentee ballots, as is the law in Kansas and Alabama. That includes providing an ID at no charge for the tiny percentage of the residents of their states who don’t already have one. And states need to modify their driver’s licenses, which are the default national ID card used by the average American every day for many different purposes besides voting, to conspicuously note whether the individual is a citizen or not.

Unfortunately, it is easy for a non-citizen, legal or illegal, to register and vote with little chance of being caught, because states don’t verify citizenship. That needs to change. States should require proof of citizenship to register to vote. They should also use available Department of Homeland Security records to check the citizenship of registered voters.

For those of us who’ve been called for jury duty, you may recall that you had to swear under oath that you are a U.S. citizen. Yet very few states require state courts to notify election and law enforcement officials when individuals called for jury duty using voter registration lists are excused because they are not U.S. citizens. Furthermore, federal courts also use state voter registration lists to find jurors for federal cases. Yet they also don’t notify states when those called for jury duty are excused for not being U.S. citizens. This should have been changed years ago.

Absentee ballots are the only ballots voted outside the supervision of election officials and outside the observation of poll watchers, making them particularly susceptible to fraud, forgery, theft, and numerous other problems we’ve seen surface in this year’s election. For that reason, the use of absentee ballots should be limited to individuals who have a valid reason, such as being disabled or out of town on Election Day, to vote absentee. They should require witness signatures or notarization and the signatures of voters on both absentee ballot request forms, and the absentee ballots themselves should be compared to the signature of the voter on file before they are accepted.

With all of the disputes over absentee ballots received after Election Day, the deadline in every state for receipt of a completed absentee ballot should be Election Day itself. Voters have many weeks prior to Election Day to obtain and vote via absentee ballot. There is simply no reason to have a deadline past that day. Additionally, vote-harvesting should be banned in every state. You are just asking for trouble if you give candidates, campaign staffers, party activists, and political consultants the ability to pick up and handle the ballots of voters – including subjecting voters to coercion and intimidation.

Absentee ballots should only go to voters who request them — there should be no automatic mailing of such ballots to all registered voters. Why? Because as this and past elections have shown, state voter registration lists are in terrible shape, filled with voters who have moved, died, or otherwise become ineligible. That is because many states are not taking the most basic steps to keep their lists accurate and up-to-date. They need to be comparing their voter-registration lists with other states; using available state, federal, and commercial databases such as credit agencies, tax records, driver’s licenses, and public assistance filings; Department of Homeland Security alien records, and deaths listed by the Social Security Administration and other government agencies.

These fixes are just a start. There are many others to add to this list, including more vigorous investigations and prosecutions of fraud by election and law enforcement officials who all too often don’t want to know about these problems or don’t take them seriously.

We have razor-thin elections all the time in this country at the federal, state and local levels. As the Supreme Court and many others have pointed out, including the bipartisan Carter/Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, fraud can make the difference in a close election. And so can errors and slip-ups by election officials. That is why state officials all over the country need to concentrate on addressing all of these vulnerabilities and problems and finally do something about them.

COLUMN BY

HANS VON SPAKOVSKY

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at The Heritage Foundation and a former election official. He is the co-author of “Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk” and “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.”

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Ryan T. Anderson’s Instant Analysis of Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Case

The Daily Signal caught up with The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson moments after Supreme Court justices concluded oral arguments on same-sex marriage.

Anderson, Heritage’s William E. Simon senior research fellow in American principles and public policy, spent the morning in the courtroom and shared his take with Jamie Jackson on the debate and Justice Anthony Kennedy’s questions.

Jamie_Jackson (1)Jamie Jackson

Jamie Jackson, a former Capitol Hill aide and TV journalist, oversees The Daily Signal’s multimedia and video content. Send an email to Jamie.

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Why There’s No Right to Gay Marriage in 6 Short Video Clips

On Thursday night, Ryan T. Anderson, the William E. Simon senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, participated in a debate about gay marriage. The Heritage Foundation Video Team assembled some of the key moments and exchanges from that debate here.

What true marriage equality is:

There are good arguments on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate:

Ever feel like the only difference between the New York Times and Washington Post is the name? We do.

Try the Morning Bell and get the day’s most important news and commentary from a team committed to the truth in formats that respect your time…and your intelligence.

Giving equal dignity to gays and lesbians doesn’t require redefining marriage:

Why does it matter if there’s both gay marriage and straight marriage?

Talking about Mark Regnerus’ studies about children and same-sex marriage:

On plural marriages:

Watch the full debate:

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VIDEO: The Iran Nuclear Negotiations — Critical Issues

The United West presents a Special National Security Event, live from the Heritage Foundation – The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5 plus 1 have entered a crucial phase ahead of the March 30 deadline for a framework agreement.

A distinguished panel of experts examines some of the key issues involved in the negotiations and assess some of the pitfalls that must be avoided if an acceptable agreement is to be reached by the June 30th deadline for a final agreement.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of the Center for Security Policy.

Boehner gives Barack a Blank Check

US national debt clock / billboard. Picture was taken on April 19, 2008 so add approximately $1.5 billion per day to get to the current amount.

Amy Payne from The Foundry reports:

Remember all those debt limit fights? Well, apparently Congress got tired of fighting. So now they’re working toward doing away with the debt limit altogether.

In recent years, conservatives fought to get at least some spending cuts, to begin putting the budget on a path to balance—after all, raising the debt ceiling means Congress has spent too much. Cutting spending before increasing the debt limit is necessary if Congress is to exercise some control over the debt.

But not this year. No one put up a fight this time—so Congress is essentially handing President Obama a blank check for the entire year.

“With almost $17.3 trillion in national debt, failing to put a debt limit in place to protect taxpayers from even more reckless spending by Congress is beyond irresponsible,” Heritage’s Romina Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann Fellow, told The Foundry.

That’s $140,000 per household, by the way.

Watch the Foundry explain in one minute what this “blank check” means:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/BLdjCUcrBFQ[/youtube]

 

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that, ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”Senator Barack H. Obama, March 2006

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image was taken on April 19, 2008 by Jesper Rautell Balle. Since this photo was take the national debt has risen over $6.6 trillion.

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It’s War: GOP establishment goes after TEA Party, TEA Party Goes RINO hunting

There are multiple reports that “establishment” Republicans are going after those who do not think like them. It is also reported that the TEA Party is targeting the eighty-seven house Republicans who voted on October 16th to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. Republican members of the Florida delegation in Congress Vern Buchanan (co-Chair of the delegation), Gus Bilirakis, Ander Crenshaw, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Daniel Webster voted with Democrats to end the government shutdown.

How will this impact Florida elections in 2014? Only the primaries will tell.

Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle reports, “The National Republican Senate Committee, the GOP campaign arm responsible for Senate elections, has decided to use its political power to block consulting firm Jamestown Associates from receiving political work from GOP candidates or incumbents. Jamestown’s “sin” is working with the Senate Conservative Fund, an organization that supports conservative candidates for the US Senate.”

“Jamestown Associates has done work with the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), a conservative group largely responsible for the elections of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rand Paul (R-KY), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Ron Johnson (R-WI), among others. Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who left the U.S. Senate last year to become the president of the Heritage Foundation, founded SCF,” notes Boyle.

Paul Bedard from the Washington Examiner writes, “Tea Party leaders Monday announced plans to hunt down the 87 House Republicans who recently voted to reopen the government, fund Obamacare and raise the debt ceiling, and demand they return donations from conservatives. They’ve dubbed their prey “RINOs” — Republicans in name only — an intra-party slur conservatives have for liberal Republicans.”

“These RINOs have let the American people down and it is time for us to get our money back,” said Dan Backer, Treasurer of the Tea Party Leadership Fund, which is leading the new effort. They created a special website where anybody can ask for their refund back. “We want our money back, and you should ask for yours back too, from any RINO who voted to fund Obamacare,” he added.

The same group recently launched PrimaryTraitors.com to rally support for primaries against the 87.

Watchdog Wire contributor Mary Kay Ruppel writes, “Republicans are fond of calling themselves conservatives when running for office. Once elected they tend to do something other than what they promised.  Republicans talk about having a ‘big tent’, but as of late that big tent excludes conservative groups and individuals such as Libertarians and members of the TEA Party.”

Abraham Lincoln stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.” The Republican House of Representatives appears to be divided.

Former Arizona Senator and candidate for President Barry Goldwater wrote, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

The war is on for the heart and soul of the Republican party of Florida. Who wins can determine the future elections in the sunshine state in 2014  and the nation in 2016.

Below is the petition to TEA Party supporters urging action against the five Florida lawmakers (courtesy of the Washington Examiner).

Dear 87 House RINOs: You don’t deserve my money, GIVE IT BACK!

We believed in them. We believed they, like us, saw our nation’s finances careening out of control and were committed to doing something about it. We believed they realized this president has added more to our national debt than all previous presidents combined. We thought even if we can’t stop ObamaCare now, we at least could stop digging the holes even deeper.

But the RINOs who joined forces with liberal Democrats to raise the debt limit and end the shutdown let us down. They took our money and our hopes for smaller government, and they abused them. We were raised to believe people delivered when they took money for something. But these traitors to the cause took the money, then delivered a vote for bigger government, more taxes, more spending, more government dependence, more human misery.

It’s time we take action. RINOs, we need you out of our party, out of Congress, out of any position where you even pretend to hold public trust. We’ll take care of the “out of Congress” part come election day, but what we need now is our money back. We need a refund. We need a RINO refund because we didn’t get what we thought we were supporting … not by a long shot.

It is the honorable thing to do. Have they any honor left?

Heritage Alliance Grades FL Republican Primary Candidates

Heritage Alliance has graded all the candidates with opposition in the Republican primary in Florida. Below are the grades for those contested primary races. At the bottom of the list are the criteria for the Heritage Alliances’ grades.

U.S. Senator – Republican

Long, Deon (R) Grade: C
Mack, Connie (R) Grade: B
McCalister, Michael (R) Grade: B
Stuart, Marielena (R) Grade: B
Weldon, Dave (R) Grade: A+

U.S. Rep., Dist. 3 – Republican

Jett, James (R) Grade: B
Oelrich, Steve (R) Grade: A
Stearns, Cliff (R) Grade: B+
Yoho, Theodore (R) Grade: B

U.S. Rep., Dist. 4 – Republican

Black, Bob (R) Grade: C
Crenshaw, Ander (R) Grade: B
Pueschel, Deborah (R) Grade: C

U.S. Rep., Dist. 6 – Republican

Clark, Richard (R) Grade: C
Costello, Fredrick W. “Fred” (R) Grade: A+
DeSantis, Ronald D. “Ron” (R) Grade: B
Kogut, William (R) Grade: D
Miller, Craig (R) Grade: A
Pueschel, Alec (R) Grade: B
Slough, Bev (R) Grade: B

U.S. Rep., Dist. 7 – Republican

Adams, Sandy (R) Grade: A+
Mica, John (R) Grade: C

U.S. Rep., Dist. 9 – Republican

Long, Todd (R) Grade: C
Melendez, Julius (R) Grade: C
Oxner, Mark (R) Grade: B
Quinones, John (R) Grade: D

U.S. Rep., Dist. 13 – Republican

Ayres, Darren (R) Grade: B
Vance, Madeline (R) Grade: B
Young, C.W. Bill (R) Grade: B

U.S. Rep., Dist. 14 – Republican

Adams Jr., Eddie (R) Grade: D
Otero, Evelio (R) Grade: C

U.S. Rep., Dist. 17 – Republican

Arnold, Joe (R) Grade: C
Rooney, Tom (R) Grade: B

U.S. Rep., Dist. 18 – Republican

Crowder, Robert L. “Bob” (R) Grade: D
West, Allen (R) Grade: B+

U.S. Rep., Dist. 19 – Republican

Aubuchon, Gary (R) Grade: B
Davidow, Joseph (R) Grade: C
Donalds, Byron (R) Grade: B
Goss, Chauncey (R) Grade: C
Kreegel, Paige (R) Grade: B
Radel, Trey (R) Grade: C

U.S. Rep., Dist. 23 – Republican

Bresso, Gineen (R) Grade: D
DeFario, Osvaldo (Ozzie) (R) Grade: C
Garcia, Juan Eliel (R) Grade: C
Harrington, Karen (R) Grade: B
Kaufman, Joe (R) Grade: B

About iVoterGuide.com

Volunteer Panelists

Panelists were selected after a Leadership Survey and a check of references that demonstrated conservative credentials and belief in limited constitutional government, free enterprise, strong national defense, and traditional Judeo-Christian values, such as the sanctity of life and marriage. Panelists include men and women from all walks of life who are committed to electing conservatives to public office.

Grading

After evaluating the data, panelists assigned a grade indicating what kind of voting record that candidate, if elected, would likely receive from a multi-issue conservative organization that grades on economic and social issues. Unless a candidate already has a legislative voting record, this is purely subjective. That is why the source data is provided so voters can more easily make their own evaluation.

A = 90% B = 80% C = 70% D = 60% F = below 60%
I = Insufficient information available for evaluation

A low grade does not mean panelists necessarily considered the candidate to be liberal. Rather, it may mean sufficient information was not available from public sources or from the candidate to give panelists the confidence that the candidate would govern conservatively if elected.  Sources of information considered the most important measure of conservative principles in governance are listed in descending order:

  • Legislative voting records if the candidate has recently held office
  • Financial contributions by the candidate to legislators with voting records
  • Record vote ratings for legislators to whom donors to the candidate have also contributed
  • Endorsements by conservative and liberal groups
  • Candidate Survey – less important because it represents promises rather than demonstrated action. However, no candidate can receive an A without answering the survey.
  • Statements on the candidates’ websites

Higher Gas Prices Add to Economic Slump

Courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

Unemployment is at 8.3 percent. The economy is sputtering at 1.5 percent growth. Food prices are rising due to drought conditions across the country. And gas prices are up again, pinching Americans’ summer budgets. It is past time for the President and Congress to pursue smart policies that would put us on a path to relief.

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the current national average for regular is $3.66 per gallon. That’s up 28 cents per gallon from a month ago, and July had its biggest price jump since AAA started tracking prices in 2000. To see the average for Florida click here.

There are many factors affecting prices that we cannot control—worldwide tensions, especially in the Middle East, can drive up oil prices. Global demand, especially from China and India’s rapidly growing economies, continues upward.

But after three years of adding regulatory hurdles and blocking exploratory access and development, President Obama’s policies are helping keep prices higher than necessary.

If the President truly wanted to lower gas prices, he would work to increase supply. But when given the opportunity, he has done the opposite. He turned down the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada. His Administration has made it even harder for companies to explore and extract domestic energy resources by canceling, delaying, or withdrawing a number of lease sales for exploration and development. Meanwhile, huge swaths of federal lands have been put off limits for energy exploration.

Domestic refinery outages have had a recent impact on gas prices. Two of the factors holding back domestic energy production are regulatory red tape and litigation—and these, we can do something about. As Heritage’s Nicolas Loris notes:

Environmental activists delay new energy projects by filing endless administrative appeals and lawsuits. Creating a manageable time frame for permitting and for groups or individuals to contest energy plans would keep potentially cost-effective ventures from being tied up for years in litigation while allowing the public and interested parties to voice opposition or support for these projects.

We don’t have to stand still. Congress could alleviate the energy crunch in 10 different ways by taking action on things we can control, like restrictions on oil shale development and offshore drilling.

One of the most common objections is that increasing domestic oil production takes too long and would not impact the market for at least a decade. The longer people make this argument, however, the longer it will take. The sooner we make investments in domestic energy, the sooner those benefits will be realized. And with some serious reforms, some of this oil can reach the market in much less than a decade.

Gas prices aren’t under the control of any one President. But Americans shouldn’t settle for policies that restrict oil exploration, refining, and production and artificially drive prices higher.

MORE FROM THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION:

High Gas Prices: Obama’s Half-Truths vs. Reality

President Obama’s 10 Worst Energy Policies