Struggle to Clean Voters Lists Gains After 2020 Election
The Public Interest Legal Foundation traveled to Pennsylvania with a list of tens of thousands of people who were likely dead, but still on state voters lists in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election.
The state was totally disinterested, according to Christian Adams, the organization’s founder. But once the election was over, Adams says, the state changed its tone.
He mediated with PILF, agreed to review the list, and even agreed to a settlement by paying part of the class attorneys’ fees.
The boost, however, was that Pennsylvania prosecutors even laid charges against a man who, according to PILF data, had registered his deceased wife to vote and then applied for his ballot in the 2020 election.
“All of a sudden they’re happy to settle in and clean,” Adams told the Washington Times.
He said it was no fluke. The aftermath of the 2020 elections have opened up new opportunities for electoral integrity advocates, who say they see signs of better cooperation from at least some jurisdictions.
Last year’s contest revealed what those involved in voter administration have known for years – national elections are not an exact science, but rather an approximation of the will of voters in the weeks surrounding early November. .
How hotly is an approximation still debated.
But it has become clear to many that dirty voters lists, lost or miscounted votes, and poorly processed ballots are more common than one might have imagined.
The difference in 2020 is that one of the candidates, then President Trump, argued these usual flaws, combined with more absurd speculation about vote-changing and ballot-emptying machines, ‘stealing’ the White House. .
While the extravagant claims still carry weight among some Trump supporters, the more complicated job of cleaning up the very real issues with the dead, non-citizens and other bogus voters remains.
Mr Adams said his experience with Pennsylvania shows that in some states the new focus of 2020 has helped.
“A virtual army has arisen from the grassroots, which does not worry about magic voting machines and recognizes the real work of the election administration. These people pressure states to obey the law and keep dead voters away, ”Adams said.
But not all states are more receptive to the post 2020.
Last month, the PILF sued Michigan for nearly 26,000 deceased voters that the group said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson would not remove. And earlier this month, PILF sued Colorado just to gain insight into state records on removing ineligible voters.
Those on the other side of the election wars are also fighting back.
The League of Women Voters sued Wisconsin last week in an attempt to force the state to “reactivate” nearly 32,000 female voters who were removed from the lists “without warning”.
The pool of registered voters has become a battleground as states strive to facilitate postal voting.
Voting rights activists say the striking names mean legitimate but infrequent voters will have a harder time voting.
Election integrity experts say the more bad names on a list, the greater the risk of fraud.
A ballot mailed to a deceased elector is a ballot that can be filled out and mailed back by someone else. It’s illegal, but unless someone is actively looking for it, it’s hard to spot.
Mr Adams said he noticed an even more worrying trend – of dead voters registering, then voting.
This was the case with Judy C. Presto, who died in 2013. Mr. Adams has a photo of her grave.
However, she still managed to apply for registration in August 2020, and vote in October. Prosecutors say her husband voted on her behalf by mail.
PILF says it found 114 people in Pennsylvania who appear to have registered to vote after their deaths are registered.
Tom Fitton, chairman of Judicial Watch, another group that monitors voter lists, said the key moment for election integrity came a few years ago, when the Supreme Court reaffirmed the requirement of federal law that states must take steps to clean up their lists. .
This gives activists a big stick, but many states are still resisting.
“Our perception is that states that don’t clean the rollers won’t clean the rollers until they are called out,” he said.
There are certain dangers for the conservatives in the new focus on electoral integrity.
Analysts plausibly argue that Mr. Trump’s questioning of Georgia’s election handling helped convince thousands of GOP voters to stay at home in the second round of that state’s senatorial elections earlier. this year, which cost Republicans two seats – and control of the Senate.
It remains to be seen whether Mr. Trump’s questioning of the 2020 election will keep GOP voters at home in 2022.
But the former president has also helped a wider set of conservatives understand what is at stake in the administration of the elections.
“Conservative activists realized they had to sit down at the table,” Fitton said. “In general, the administration of the elections has been ceded to the left and to the partisans. And so the Conservatives are trying to get involved.