Just when we thought the 2018 Mid-term Election was over, there is one last open Congressional seat and a major controversy. There is strong, reliable evidence that Republican operatives in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District perpetrated serious acts of voter fraud to steal that election. A significant part of the fraud involved early voting and voting by mail. That is a problem we must address as part of an overall improvement to our elections, particularly our national elections. The failing, unreliable, and vulnerable election systems across the country are a national disgrace and causing increasing suspicion about election results. Here in North Carolina we have a demonstrated act of voter fraud. Democracy depends on us doing much better.
The situation in North Carolina illustrates the point. In two counties in the 9th District, a significant percentage of the early voting ballots were not returned, much higher than the other counties in the district, thus cause for alarm. Republican candidate Mark Harris hired a Republican operative who was also a known criminal having been previously convicted of fraud. There is only one reason to hire such a tainted individual and it should be no surprise that he appears to be responsible for significant voter fraud designed to steal the election for Harris. Both counties involved have much higher Democratic voter registration, thus when the votes came in significantly disproportionately high for Harris, including early ballots, when both should have favored Democrat Dan McCready, there was ample cause for alarm and investigation. To their credit, election officials refused to certify the election results.
Thus far the investigation, which now includes a criminal investigation, demonstrates a Republican scheme to go door-to-door in both counties purporting to be authorized early ballot collectors pretending to collect ballots for election officials. They approached thousands of voters, some of whom had not even requested an early ballot, and collected their ballots. They discarded many ballots that had votes for Democrat McCready and in some cases altered ballots to vote for Republican Harris. The result was an inexplicable increase in Harris votes from these ballots, three times higher than the percentage of Republican voter registration.
There are calls for a new vote, even by Harris, who claims that IF there is evidence of impropriety there should be a new vote. There is no need for a new vote. Harris should be disqualified, and McCready declared the winner. There is ample evidence in the form of voter affidavits and criminal investigators to properly disqualify Harris. First, Harris hired the operative, who committed significant fraud at the behest of Harris. Second, McCready received more votes absent the fraud. We know McCready votes were discarded or changed resulting in a slim lead for Harris. Erase the fraud and McCready clearly won. Third, anything less rewards Harris and the fraudulent Republican effort to steal the election. There should not be a redo upon getting caught red-handed. Consequently, McCready should be declared the winner.
Whatever happens, this incident reveals extreme vulnerability in our elections system and supports the alarming need for immediate improvements. The federal government and every state must review its systems and take appropriate measures to update, improve and safeguard them from fraud as well as malfunction. We cannot ever tolerate legitimate questions over the sanctity of our elections.
The first and immediate step is resources. There is an unacceptable number of communities nationwide with aging, unreliable, ineffective voting machines of multiple varieties. Whatever system elections officials choose to use, it is inexcusable for the system not to be wholly functional, reliable, and protected. Leaders must invest resources into better lifecycle replacement and routine maintenance of machines. The federal government needs to help states and states need to hep local officials. There are far too many incidents wherein voters wait in long lines because machines malfunction or work too slowly to accommodate the voters in the district. And this is with less than 50% of the electorate voting.
Committing adequate resources is imperative no matter what other reforms we enact. However, the most important reform is patience, and this is the crux of the problem. We all want to know the results as soon as possible and many of us sit glued to the television watching returns until late at night. The anticipation is understandable. Elections have big consequences and campaigns take so long that we can’t wait for them to be over. But what’s the rush? We elect a president every four years and have Congressional elections every two years. The election cycles, although they always seem to be upon us and never-ending, are not really all that frequent. With the importance of the electoral process and the results therein, why can’t we as society demonstrate just a little patience in favor of proper elections?
Newly elected individuals do not take office immediately, so allowing a few days to conduct full and fair elections and certify accurate results will not interfere with the orderly transfer of power or administration of government. More importantly, we need to improve the voting mechanisms to ensure all eligible voters have the chance to vote and their votes are counted. In many communities, lines at the polls are so long that voters can’t or choose not to wait and leave without casting a ballot. Although this should never be the case, there are voters who cannot get enough time off work while polls are open or can’t get to their assigned poll due to distance and lack of transportation.
Unfortunately, as discussed above, machines break down and that can result in long lines or other problems preventing voters from casting a ballot. A two-day voting period would significantly help ensure that all members of the electorate who wish to vote a fair and reasonable opportunity to do so. It can also alleviate crowding at the polls, provide options, and lessen the impact of failing machines. With something so important we should not rush to failure, but rather ensure orderly processing and announcement of results. No matter what the cause, anything that prevents an eligible voter from casting a ballot is intolerable and undemocratic.
Hopefully a two-day voting period would significantly reduce the need for early voting. Certainly, overseas voters, including military voters, would need to file absentee ballots by mail. It is important to ensure proper processing of these votes so as not to disenfranchise voters who make the extra effort to vote despite being far away from home. However, there are many voters across the country who elect to vote early for reasons including simple convenience. The more voters who cast ballots on actual election day(s), the better. Those who vote early may miss out on the chance to consider later developments in various campaigns. Debates often occur towards the end of election cycles. More importantly, it seems each year the challenges with vote counting involve mail in ballots. There are jurisdictions where these ballots get lost, get mysteriously found, are subject to claim of alteration or influence, etc. The significant fraud in North Carolina’s 9th District highlighted these concerns. Multi-day voting should reduce the need for early, mail in voting.
It comes down to resources and patience. Demand our leaders spend the required resources to protect election machines. The sanctity and integrity of vote is worth the cost. They are also worth our collective patience. An extra day or so is very little to ask to allow all citizens the chance to vote, our voices to be heard, and to ensure proper results. Our future depends on it.