Allegations of voter fraud in the Dallas City Council election were reported in the Dallas Morning News this week. Although the current city council accepted the election results, allowing the runoff process to move forward, several council members expressed some reservation at the integrity of the outcome. The particular issue in this case surrounds mail in ballots. Apparently the vote-generating scheme centers on requesting mail in ballots for people who did not actually request one. These ballots are then completed and returned, adding illegitimate votes to the actual totals. This process of fraudulent voting requires forging of several signatures in behalf of the actual registered voter.
According to the Texas Election Code 64.012, a person commits the offense of illegal voting if he or she:
- votes or attempts to vote in an election in which the person knows they are not eligible to vote;
- knowingly votes or attempts to vote more than once in an election;
- knowingly impersonates another person and votes or attempt to vote as the impersonated person; or
- knowingly marks or attempts to mark another person’s ballot without the consent of that person.
In one recent high profile case, a Dallas woman was convicted of voter fraud, sentenced to 8 years in prison and is likely to be deported. Her case centered on her checking the “citizen” box on her registration form when she was in fact a permanent resident. She misrepresented her status and voted in a few elections, violating the first of the bullet points above.
Actual prevalence data on voter fraud is difficult to obtain. As nobody is immediately harmed, it is seldom reported. Additionally, the evidence is also hard to compile, and it’s hard to prove intent. The folks over at The Federalist gave a nice overview of voter fraud statistics just prior to the Presidential election, if you want to take a look.
The official position of the Texas Nationalist Movement is that the only way to maintain confidence in a Republican form of government is to ensure that the integrity of the voting process is maintained. In a recent statement from TNM President Daniel Miller on this issue he states, “No one trusts a leaky ship and no one should trust a government that is the result of a leaky voting process.”
TNM favors taking common sense measures to safeguard the vote, because it is a serious concern. However, perhaps the the way to deal with this issue lies in better enforcement of the laws that are already on the books. Along side enforcement, any genuine barriers keeping the law abiding from gaining the required identification should be addressed, with reasonable accommodations met. If the legislature focused on increasing access to voting and made it easier to get the required ID while at the same time providing funding for enforcement, then legitimate grievances on both sides of the issue would dry up.
Not one person should vote illegally, but it should also be evident that not one legal person should be prevented from voting. In this writers opinion, any true solution must address both identification and access. And when it comes time to vote on Texas independence, when the legislature finally listens to the people and gives us a chance to choose, turnout will be critical. On the day of the vote, every Texan man and woman will be needed on hand, registered, and ready to do their duty for their home town and for Texas. Oh, and I suggest you bring an ID.