What is election integrity? Why does it matter to you? John Fund, National Review columnist and author of Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy and Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk, discusses with Linda the very real threat voter fraud is to our country. It exists, is proven, and unfortunately, it happens every election cycle. How can we prevent voter fraud and ensure that every vote is cast legally and counted properly? What can you do to protect your vote? Educate yourself and take action now to preserve America’s free and fair elections.
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Linda J. Hansen:
Thank you again for joining us for this very important episode in which we discuss a matter that affects us all. Election integrity. Our guest today, John Fund, is one of America’s most respected experts regarding ballot security and voting procedures. John Fund is national affairs columnist for National Review magazine and a contributor to Fox News. He is an often quoted expert on American politics and the interconnections between politics, economics and legal issues. He previously severed as a columnist and editorial board member for the Wall Street Journal for 27 years. He is the author of several books including Obama’s Enforcer, Eric Holders Justice Department, Whose counting, How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats put your vote at risk, and The Dangers of Regulation Through Litigation. He worked as a research analyst for the California Legislature in Sacramento before beginning his journalism career as a reporter for the Syndicated columnists Roland Evans and Robert Novak. Roll Call, the newspaper of Capital Hill, called him the Tom Payne of the modern congressional reform movement. He has won awards from the Institutes for Justice, The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Fund for American Studies. In addition he is my long time friend an advisor to Prosperity 101 and a previous guest on this Podcast. If you would like to listen to the earlier episode entitled Changing the Course of History, Employee Education and the Making of a World Leader, it can be found in our episode library.
Although his schedule was packed, John graciously agreed to do this interview by phone, due to the timeliness and importance of the subject matter.
With that I welcome you John. Thank you for being here for this interview today.
Thank you Linda, a real pleasure.
Linda J. Hansen:
Well it is just great to have you and your expertise here to discuss this very important topic of election integrity.
A Notional Review column of May 10th, that you wrote this year was titled Mail-In Ballots are a Recipe for Confusion, Coercion, and Voter Fraud. In that column you state some specific examples that should cause alarm for every citizen concerned about free and fair elections. But many in the media claim universal mail in balloting is the best choice. So could you please explain for our listeners the difference between Absentee Ballots and the Universal Mail-In Ballots that are being discussed in the news now and how all of this can compromise election integrity?
Sure Linda. Absentee ballots have a long tradition going back to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War when there had to be a way for soldiers at the front to vote. Absentee Ballots have been used throughout our history, but as the acceptation, not the rule. The reason is that absentee ballots for one thing deprive people of their right to a secret ballot. And in addition as presidential commissions chaired by people like Jimmy Carter, a democratic President, have found that there are prone to fraud, abuse, and manipulation as well as being less reliable than voting at the polls.
So absentee voting was 5% of the vote in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was president. In the last election it was 27%. So we have seen a dramatic expansion of it but at least it has been gradual so election officials can catch up with that and adapt to it. And, it has also been that you have to request the absentee ballot.
All Mail-In voting is completely different. Some states are trying to send a ballot to everyone on their voter registration list which is a big mistake. The Pugh Research Center says 20 to 25% of the names on our voter lists are outdated, inaccurate or invalid. When Nevada used this method in their primary earlier this year, in Las Vegas 26% of the ballots came back undeliverable. Some of them may have been delivered to addresses that were outdated and may have come back as ballots filled out by somebody. So there is a world of difference between Absentee Ballots and All Mail-In voting.
Now some states are at least recognizing this problem and are saying “well we will only do all mail voting for those who request a ballot.” That is an improvement but it still puts a tremendous strain on our postal service and our election officials who aren’t used to having all of the rules rewritten and turned upside down only a few weeks before the election.
The postal service has fallen on hard times. Their mail standards are not what they used to be. In 2013 the Social Security System stopped sending out Social Security Checks. They only do direct deposit now because the postal service was so unreliable. The fact is that the postal service according to the latest Inspector General’s report, which just came out last week, often doesn’t handle election mail well. This new Inspector General’s report said that between April and June of this year with various primaries that were conducted with mail in ballots, in seven postal centers, 8% of the mail relating to the elections didn’t get mailed out or didn’t get received on time.
That is a problem. If you look at individual examples of testing the postal service’s reliability you come to CBS News which chose Philadelphia in a swing state of Pennsylvania. They prepared a hundred letters to people to mail in. They were shaped like an absentee ballot they were the same weight as an absentee ballot and they were all mailed to a post office box by CBS at a Philadelphia postal center. After a week they went and looked for them. It was first class mail. Nothing in the mail box. Absolutely nothing. So this is on camera, they go to the counter, “Do you have any mail for us?” No. They go to another person, no, they go to another person. Finally this person says I will go get the supervisor. The supervisor comes out, looks at the camera that the CBS reporter has with him and says well probably said to himself I should do something about this. This is abviously a journalist testing our system. So he goes back in, rummages around and finally you hear on the camera recording “Oh, that’s where they are.” He comes out and he has 41 ballots. Well 41 is something but it is not 100. And again the postal service is mailing out ballots and receiving ballots. People are used to having mail delivered far faster than that. After 3 weeks CBS News goes back and they find that of those 100 ballots that they mailed to the post office 97 were delivered. Ninety Seven sounds like a lot, but that means that 3 were not delivered, they never arrived.
Lots of elections including Pennsylvania in 2016 were decided by less than 3% of the vote. So in theory we could be looking at a lot of people disenfranchised and that doesn’t include the fact that there can be delays and there could be disputes about how the absentee ballot was filled out improperly. New York City which did not have a lot of mail in ballots until this primary they just hadin June, a lot of people were not used to mail in ballots. They made mistakes. Twenty Five percent of the mail in ballots from the New York Primary in June were invalidated. A lot was fought over in court. It took six weeks to decide some of the close elections.
So for just practical, logistical and also issues of voter integrity, all mail in voting is a mistake doing it certainly this fast and this chaotically.
Linda J. Hansen:
That is so informative for our listeners, thank you so much. Yes, II know and actually my family knows first had how this can affect the integrity of your vote. In 2004 my son was a Marine serving in Iraq. He and some of his friends agreed to be part of the voter integrity project that I was part of where we were tracking some of the military ballots. They allowed their ballots in a sense to be tracked in that we wanted to know when they came into the clerk to just judge the time it took for the military ballots to come in.
His ballot never made it. Years later the city clerk even said to me that it never ever showed up. So that is just one person but how many people has that happened to when we are voting absentee. How many military members over the years have had their vote not counted? So this is really critical at this time when we are dealing with close elections national and at state and local levels. We want to make sure that everyone’s vote counts.
Well I couldn’t agree more and we want everyone to be able to vote in a free and fair election. The problem is our civil rights can be denied if we are not careful. You know, there are two ways that your civil rights can be denied in casting your ballot. The first, which we fought a great civil right battle over in the 1960’s to preserve those gains, is we got rid of poll taxes, we got rid of literacy test, we got rid of all kinds of impediments and barriers preventing people from voting, especially in the south. And that was a good thing and we did not want peoples civil rights taken away from them.
You can have your civil rights taken away just as easily and effectively if someone’s ballot cancels out your ballot. If somebody is voting who shouldn’t be voting, they are in prison, they have moved out of state, they are dead, they are invalid, they maid duplicate registrations or there is some other problem. If they vote, they cancel out your vote and deprive you of your vote just as effectively as if someone stood in a polling house door and said you couldn’t come in here and vote.
Linda J. Hansen:
Absolutely. You know we have talked about the dangers of universal mail in voting and even just the benefits of going to the polls and voting vs. an absentee ballot, a pre-planned absentee ballot. But could you address voter fraud? You just mentioned some ways that voter fraud happens across the nation. Could you address that and help people see that this truly is a problem? I know that there is a lot of media that is saying voter fraud is not an issue but it truly is and it has impacted elections greatly over the years, so could you give some examples and some way as citizens that we could prevent voter fraud?
Well yes, and there certainly are things that people can do. But let’s talk about Election Day fraud. I am not saying that it happens often but if it is a close race, people think it is a close race, the temptation will be for people to use walking around money, in other words cash, to convince people to vote to vote instead of someone, in other words they pretend to be someone that they are not. Believe me, this can happen. You have had examples in New York City where city investigators tested the election system in a place where you don’t have voter ID laws, which is about half of our states. They had 63 investigators march in to the polls and say I am this person, can I vote? In 61 of the 63 occasions they were given a ballot. And they voted, they voted for Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck as a write-in so it didn’t count, but they voted. Only two times were they prevented from voting.
The first time someone was told by the election official “Oh you have moved, you can’t vote at this location let me go out to the street and show you where your registration is valid.” So they ultimately voted somewhere else. The only other person who was denied a ballot was in Brooklyn, where this nice little old lady manning the polls looked up at the man and said I”I can’t let you vote” . And the guys said “why” and she said well you know you are trying to vote in the name of my son and he is in prison and I know he is not you.
Linda J. Hansen:
And that was the only one, so that is a problem. We call that a problem.
Linda J. Hansen:
That is definitely a problem and it is really a argument for voter ID which some people don’t want but it is a great preventive measure for voter fraud, against voter fraud to have everyone to have to provide voter ID.
To make it even worse we have the example of absentee ballot fraud. There is an article in Sunday’s New York Post which anyone can get online. It is free. It is about a political consultant who didn’t want to be named but the paper checked out his bonafides that he had and he said that “I commit voter fraud all the time on behalf of clients. Now in this election I am upset because Bernie Sanders is my candidate. I think he got a raw deal. I don’t like Donald Trump so I want to alert people that we need to clean up the system.” Then he described in detail how this is done and it ranges from going to mail boxes when you know they have been mailed out and stealing them out of peoples mail boxes, it goes to going to apartment buildings where people who have moved out, their ballots are still delivered. You take them from the mail box. It is often not locked or often just left on top of other mail in the lobby. You can also steam open ballots and replace them with another ballot because while the return envelope has certain characteristics that make it official, the ballot itself often can be copied. You can just throw out people’s ballot and put in a new ballot. You can also in states where vote harvesting is allowed, you can have people go door to door assisting people in filling out their ballots or perhaps even intimidating them in some cases. And then you are offering to deliver them to the election officials. You can often assist people in voting illegally. We have two former Democratic Congressmen who in recent years have been caught going into nursing homes and Alzheimer’s care homes and illegally helping them fill out ballots. When they really didn’t know what they were doing and then voting for them. In other cases people going door to door collecting ballots and steaming them open and if they find the person voted for the wrong person they throw the ballot away and they only deliver the ballots that are for their candidate.
All kinds of things can happen. They don’t normally happen because most races aren’t close and most races don’t have a lot of money circulating around.
Well the presidential race this year is going to be different. It is probably going to be close and there is an awful lot of money sloshing around there. So human temptation being what it is we have to worry that some people are going to be tempted to bend the rules in their favor.
Linda J. Hansen:
This is frightening actually when you think of how this could happen to the integrity of our votes. Thank you for brining that up. If listeners would like to learn more about how to protect their vote and basically the integrity of all elections, what would you recommend?
Well, the Heritage Foundation has a wonderful database of over 1300 cases of voter fraud. People where not just caught, not just indicted, but convicted and sentenced. That is a very good exhibit to show people that voter fraud does exist and very recently. In fact Patterson, New Jersey recently had to throw out the municipal election because 20% of the mail-in ballots were declared invalid.
In addition they could do lots of things on their own to improve the voting system. We have lots of poll workers in this country, 700,000 of them but the average age is 68. Many of them for COVID reasons are not going to be working this November. People in your audience can apply to be a poll worker. It is paid job and pays between $85 and $190 for the day. They can help moderate and make sure the election is run smoothly. We also can make a fuss about the need to watch for voter fraud. We can contact US Prosecutors, local Attorneys, people in the media and say “We think this is going to be a problem” .
We want a fair and free election, we don’t want any voter suppression, and we also don’t want any voter fraud.
Linda J. Hansen:
Exactly, that is so important. Obviously they should contact their elected officials, tell their friends and family, and make sure their vote is taken care of securely at the polling location.
So you have mentioned the Heritage Foundation, and I know you have written quite a bit. Would you like to mention the books that you have written regarding this?
Well you can get my latest book on Amazon. Just type in my name and “Who’s Counting?” is the title of the latest book. It will come up and you can order it. It is a few years old but it is still very valid and will give you a good tour of the horizon on this issue.
Linda J. Hansen:
That would be great and I am sure a great resource for our listeners. For those of you who would like to read more of what John Fund has written on this issue and others you can go to National Review and see his columns and I am sure you may see him on news programs. He is a sought after speaker and commentator. You will learn a lot about election integrity and so much about how to protect your vote and the vote of others.
Our system of government is precious and we have free and fair elections that many people seek to have across the world. So we need to protect that. Freedom is never free. We all need to work hard to protect our nation and the integrity of our elections. May we all do our part to make sure this election is run fairly and I thank you John.
Do you have any other closing comments for our listeners?
Just that after Election Day we may be in for a rough patch where there is a lot of law suits, a lot a arguments that one side or the other has been cheating. There will be a lot of judges try to decide how people voted rather than letting the people themselves decide. WE all should remain calm and cool but we should let our voices be heard if there are abuses of the system, we need to speak up. Because if we do speak up people do pay attention and some people who may be trying to manipulate the system can be deterred from doing that. So it is up to all of us to monitor the election is our own way and to speak up if w things are being handled unfairly.
Linda J. Hansen:
Good points. We talk about speaking up and I know in Prosperity 101 we are always talking about how employers can help to educate employees. I just want to point out that while never telling who to vote for or anything like that, employers can educate employees about the importance of making sure their ballot is secure. They can talk about how to register to vote or where to go. They can provide that information so if there are any employers listening we encourage you to share basic voter information with your employees and just encouraging them to do their civic duty and vote but to do so fairly and ethically and responsibly.
With that, John I would like to thank you so much. I am sure our listeners have learned a lot from you and that they will follow up by reading some of the things that you have written.
Thank you so much for joining us today.
Thank you, I appreciate it.