Reform, like beauty, can be skin deep. Governor Tom Wolf has proposed a series of election “reforms” that he claims will make our electoral system more fair and accessible, but upon closer examination would actually make elections more vulnerable to fraud and abuse.
For the past two years Democrats have �" without so far providing any concrete evidence �" argued that Russians colluded with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election. Yet, while arguing that the system is vulnerable to hacking and fraud Wolf proposes changes that would make elections even less secure.
He has proposed same day voter registration. In other words anybody can walk into their polling place and be registered on the spot. Without a photo ID requirement there is no way for election officials to actually verify that the person in front of them is qualified to register. The reason why advance voter registration is required is so election officials can verify the person is in fact an eligible voter.
After accepting millions of dollars in campaign contributions from labor unions whose contracts he must approve, Governor Wolf is now proposing campaign contribution limits. He could have led by example �" by not taking special interest money �" but instead banked the contributions and is now rolling out election year rhetoric.
The governor’s new found desire to reduce the influence of money in campaigns is especially interesting in light of a recent Philadelphia Inquirer expose that revealed his largest campaign donor, Fairness PA, is nothing more than a PAC used by doctors and lawyers who own pharmacies greasing the skids to ensure unproved medications paid for by taxpayers continue to be prescribed.
What the governor did not propose was the one common sense change that would actually dramatically cut down on election fraud: requiring a photo ID to vote. Democrats in general and Wolf in particular, have opposed photo ID claiming it is a barrier to voting. However, in an age where you need a photo ID even to purchase cough medicine at your local pharmacy such arguments ring hollow.
Another important aspect of election security omitted by the governor in his list of proposed “reforms” is addressing the growing problem of ineligible voters. Specifically, at least 100,000 non-citizens legal immigrants have been documented as having illegally registered to vote. Nobody knows for sure how many there actually are, nor is there any mechanism in place for identifying and removing illegal aliens who may be on the registration rolls.
We are not likely to learn the scope of the problem any time soon. That is because the Wolf Administration is stonewalling legislative efforts to get relative data. The governor has even gone to court to prevent the Department of State �" the agency tasked with administering elections �" from complying with legislative demands for information.
While the governor works to cover up the depth of the problem the state Senate is seeking clarity. To that end a bill sponsored by state Senator Kim Ward would direct the Auditor General to perform a comprehensive audit of the State Uniform Registry of Electors or SURE system. The Auditor General would be tasked with determining the accuracy of voter records, assessing whether security protocols are adequate, and make recommendations to improve the integrity of the database.
The Ward bill has cleared committee, but must still pass the Senate and be approved by the state House. Unfortunately even if the bill moves expeditiously through the legislature there won’t be time for the Auditor General to complete his work by this November’s election. But, it will help ensure the integrity of the 2020 presidential balloting.
Taken as a whole �" Governor Wolf’s track record of accepting labor union and other special interest money, his administration’s lack of transparency on voter fraud, and his stonewalling of legislative efforts to ensure election integrity �" his new found interest in election reform must be viewed with suspicion.
Not only are the proposals a fig leaf aimed at covering up his collusion with special interests, but they are a roadmap for weakening the current safeguards in our electoral system and fail to take the prudent steps necessary to further ensure the electorate is comprised only of qualified voters.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is email@example.com.)
Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cite