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Chairman's Message, Elections, Maryland, Voter Fraud

“I See Dead People” – Maryland’s Voter Fraud Problem

Posted: September 15, 2012 at 7:53 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Maryland’s 1st Congressional District Democratic, Wendy Rosen, withdrew from the race this past week after it was revealed that she had voted in the 2006 and 2008 elections once in Maryland, where she’s a registered voter, and again in Florida, where she’s also a registered voter.

As Gazette columnist Blair Lee pointed out yesterday, “Apparently, Ms. Rosen didn’t understand that congressional candidates are expected to break the law after they go to Congress, not before.”

However the Baltimore Sun editorially dismissed the matter as only an “anomaly.”  The Sun should assign a reporter to speak with Cathy Kelleher, president of Election Integrity Maryland, a non-partisan group researching the MD voter rolls.

Kelleher comments:

“How many more Wendy Rosens are there on Maryland’s voter rolls? We’ve identified several hundred duplicate registrations so far, and much research remains to be done.  Most of these duplicates are tied to voters registered both in MD and in another state.”

Election Integrity Maryland is researching Maryland’s voter registration rolls, using publicly available information.  Since February, they have submitted more than 11,000 irregularities in the voter rolls to the MD State Board of Elections and to local Boards of Elections in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

How do election officials respond? Montgomery County officials do not bother to deny that people may remain on their registration rolls after they are dead.

“We cannot take people off the rolls simply because we are provided information from something like Obituaries.com saying someone has died,” a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Board of Elections told the Washington Examiner.   “We have to be very careful with the voter rolls — you can see where it would cause some problems if we were misinformed on a person’s death.”

“I see dead people.”

In fairness to the Montgomery County Board of Elections, though, their hands are tied by Maryland state law and the State Board of Elections which prevents them from using available tools to clean up the voter rolls.  As a result the Montgomery County Republican Party routinely advises our precinct chairs and candidates to expect that at least 10% of the voter lists do not reflect actual people living at the addresses indicated.

This is more than a matter of maintaining accurate lists. As Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a 2008 opinion upholding a strict Indiana voter-ID law designed to combat fraud: “Unfortunately, the United States has a long history of voter fraud that has been documented by historians and journalists,” Although generally associated with the more liberal wing of the court, Justice Stevens has had first-hand experience with voter fraud while serving on various reform commissions in Chicago.

In a previous unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court had declared in that “confidence in the integrity of our electoral processes is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy. Voter fraud drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government. Voters who fear their legitimate votes will be outweighed by fraudulent ones will feel disenfranchised.”

Unfortunately election fraud, as the Rosen case demonstrates, is not a phenomena limited to 19th century urban political machines.  Writer John Fund has written extensively on the contemporary subject, most recently with a book, Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk.  His previous books include Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy and How the Obama Administration Threatens to Undermine Our Elections (Encounter Broadsides).

One of the ways Maryland citizens can help ensure election integrity is by being a Poll Watcher.  Poll Watchers observe voting procedures at polling locations on election days and report irregularities.  To do so, you must be a registered voter in Maryland and have a Poll Watcher Certificate.

Election Integrity Maryland offers Poll Watcher training for anyone, regardless of party affiliation.

Election Integrity Maryland’s training is based upon guidelines issued by the Maryland State Board of Elections.  Upon successful completion of our training program, a person may then volunteer for a candidate or organization authorized to issue a Poll Watcher Certificate.  Their next two-hour Poll Watcher training webinar is September 18-19.  Election Integrity Maryland Registration

Another opportunity is by becoming an Election Judge. The Board of Elections is still seeking individuals to serve as election judges at polling places for the Presidential General Election to be held on November 6, 2012. Judges must be registered to vote in the State of Maryland and while acting as a judge must not hold, or be a candidate for, public or party office.  In addition, election judges may not serve as a campaign manager for a candidate or as treasurer for any campaign financial entity.

There is still a shortage of election judges bilingual in Spanish and Republican election judges.   Training will be provided and all judges will be compensated for Election Judge services.

To apply, please fill out a brief application or contact the recruitment and training office for more information. Application

As important as detection is, so is deterrence through criminal enforcement. Prosecutors must must send a clear message that they take election fraud cases seriously. Marylanders will be watching to see the outcome of the Rosen case.

Mark Uncapher
Montgomery County Republican Chairman