[Image via watchdogreviews]
Yesterday’s headlines were dominated by reports that the new Administration is considering calling for an investigation into voter fraud in the 2016 election. As you can imagine, there has been a strong reaction to the reports, with voices across Washington and the nation fiercely debating the need for the investigation and wondering what’s next. I was especially interested to see how election officials nationwide – who would obviously be involved and interested in any such investigation – would react. By and large, the reaction fell into three groups:
Skepticism and/or opposition
Some election officials not only disagreed with the need for the investigation but criticized the White House for even suggesting it was necessary. Minnesota SoS Steve Simon called claims of voter fraud “false” and “irresponsible” , Massachusetts SoS William Galvin called them “outrageous lies”, and Rhode Island SoS Nellie Gorbea was critical of the President’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud. Local election officials in Florida – including Seminole County’s Mike Ertel – made the case that “voter fraud is likely one of the least committed felonies in America” and said allegations of fraud could hurt voter trust in the system.
A few election officials supported the call for an investigation. Newly-elected West Virginia SoS Mac Warner welcomed the investigation, saying it was consistent with his own plans to clean up voter rolls. Warner also suggested that the federal government should consider federal funding for such efforts. South Dakota SoS Chantal Krebs offered her own state’s election system as a model for the investigation, given the commitment to ensuring that voter rolls are free of ineligible voters.
The dominant theme, however, was a sense of reassurance that the system works the way it’s supposed to. Ohio SoS Jon Husted noted that his office is already reviewing the 2016 vote – just as it did in 2012 – and was confident that it was still “easy to vote and hard to cheat” in the Buckeye State. Georgia’s state election director told a legislative committee that there were no illegal votes in that state in 2016. Arizona SoS Michelle Reagan said the 2016 elections were “very free from fraud” and expressed confidence that existing laws and procedures were working the way they should. Newly-elected New Mexico SoS Maggie Toulouse Oliver cited her state’s work to upgrade and protect voter rolls as proof the investigation was not needed.
Based on this reaction (and I note that there are many similar stories – go check out electionline.org for more) it’s clear that with a few exceptions, election officials nationwide aren’t sold on the need for an investigation – either because they disagree with the premise entirely or because they feel like they’ve got the matter under control at home. Whether or not that deters the White House from proceeding, it’s worth keeping in mind if and/or when the effort gets underway.
Yeah … you’re going to want to stay tuned.