While the focus of the media in the recent election was on Virginia and New Jersey, the progressive left suffered a big defeat, barely noticed in the press: The voting public in a very blue state–New York–defeated two reckless election changes that radical advocacy organizations have been trying to force through Congress and state legislatures: same-day voter registration and no-fault absentee balloting.
Referendum 3, to implement same-day voter registration, was defeated resoundingly, 58 percent to 42 percent. As we explain in our new book, “Our Broken Elections: How the Left Changed the Way You Vote” (Encounter Books), same-day voter registration allows individuals to walk into a polling place on Election Day, register, and immediately vote.
This gives election officials no time to verify the accuracy of the voter registration information and the eligibility of the individual to vote, which is why most states require individuals to register before an election. New York’s deadline is 25 days before Election Day.
When combined with the fact that New York has no ID requirement, same-day registration raises serious security concerns. Anyone willing to cheat can walk into any polling place (or places), register under a fake name and address, cast a ballot, then walk out of the polling place scot-free–and election officials can do absolutely nothing to stop it.
Moreover, election officials decide how many ballots and how many personnel are needed at polling places based on the number of registered voters. If hundreds of unregistered voters show up at a particular polling location on Election Day, an election official may not have enough ballots or staff, leading to the disenfranchisement of voters who were properly registered at that location but who, unfortunately for them, showed up late in the day to vote.
New York voters were smart enough to recognize the problems caused by same-day voter registration and voted against it. The same can’t be said for elected officials like Sens. Chuck Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D), who have been pushing Congress to pass H.R. 1, the bill that would lead to a complete federal takeover of the election process and mandate, among many unwise and dangerous policies, that all states implement same-day voter registration.
Referendum 4, to implement no-fault absentee balloting, was also soundly defeated 56 percent to 44 percent, no doubt to the utter dismay of the Brennan Center and other radical organizations headquartered in New York. Again, as we explain in “Our Broken Elections,” no one disputes the need for absentee ballots for people who cannot make it to their neighborhood polling places because they are sick, physically disabled, or serving the country abroad as a member of the armed forces or diplomatic corps.
That is exactly what current New York law does – absentee ballots can be used by voters who are ill, physically disabled, or will be absent on Election Day. Moving to no-fault absentee balloting (where anyone can vote with a mail-in ballot without a reason) is an unwise and dangerous policy that will make fraud far easier to commit.
The many cases of proven absentee ballot fraud make it clear to any reasonable, objective observer that mail-in ballots are susceptible to being stolen, altered, and forged. In fact, a 1998 report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded that the “lack of ‘in-person, at-the-polls’ accountability make absentee ballots the ‘tool of choice’ for those inclined to commit voter fraud.”
Additionally, while states have bans on electioneering in polling places, there are no prohibitions on electioneering in voters’ homes. That makes voters vulnerable to intimidation and pressure by candidates, campaign staffers, political party activists, and political consultants.
Despite this defeat, we expect liberals to work even harder to change the rules in ways that, regardless of their motives, will make it easier to cheat and easier to manipulate election results. The results could be catastrophic to the integrity and security of the election process.