This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published April 13, 2017 by The Hill.
A North Carolina election worker was arrested last week for allegedly hacking hundreds of voter records to switch the status of ineligible felons — potentially allowing them to vote illegally in 2016. While Joy Wilkerson’s attempted act of electoral sabotage is outrageous, it’s nothing compared to what’s happening in Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, felons who are ineligible to vote remain on the rolls deliberately. Pennsylvania does not allow incarcerated felons to vote. Yet election officials regularly send absentee ballots to prisons for misdemeanor convicts. There is no voter ID in Pennsylvania, and convicted felons remain on the poll books used on Election Day in Philadelphia.
The astonishing circumstance in Philadelphia was discovered in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) seeking access to public election records. When the ACRU asked for records showing voter rolls maintenance regarding felons who lost their right to vote, Philadelphia election officials just laughed. There were no records because they do nothing about it.
Philadelphia alone has sent thousands of felons to prison who cannot vote. Absolutely nothing was done to alter these voter registration records before the 2016 federal election. This means that poll books in Philadelphia listed ineligible felons as eligible voters. Nothing prevented these incarcerated felons from obtaining absentee ballots or having someone vote in their name.
When the ACRU attempted to stop the production of poll books with ineligible felons listed, a federal judge in Philadelphia dismissed the case. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments later this month if the case should go forward.
At issue is the National Voter Registration Act — also known as the Motor Voter law — passed in 1993. One express purpose of that law was to ensure accurate voter rolls so ineligible people do not cast ballots. Naturally, organizations funded by George Soros have appeared in the litigation and are arguing that nothing should prevent ineligible felons from staying on the voter rolls in this key swing state.
Worse, these groups seek to declaw election integrity protections in Motor Voter. They don’t like that in 1993 Senate Republicans added election integrity amendments to President Bill Clinton’s turnout project. They seek to kill in the courts what they could not kill in Congress.
The Obama Justice Department also pitched in to corrupt American elections. In 2009, political appointees instructed Justice Department lawyers like me that they were shutting down enforcement of Motor Voter’s provisions that ensure only eligible voters were on the rolls. No enforcement efforts were filed in eight years.
The left is engaged in a coordinated crusade to preserve election vulnerabilities. Philadelphia felon voting is just the latest example. They want federal courts to render meaningless the federal obligations to keep clean voter rolls.
Philadelphia doesn’t even put a note in voter files about which registrants are ineligible to receive a ballot because they are an incarcerated felon. Philadelphia doesn’t care.
Federal law requires the U.S. attorney to provide election officials lists of felons convicted in federal court. In Philadelphia, that information is treated like junk mail.
This coordinated crusade recently saw Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe veto a bill that would require investigations of counties with more registered voters than eligible voters living there. McAuliffe’s election department has stonewalled efforts to catalog non-citizen voting there. He has been using his power to preserve vulnerabilities and lawlessness in elections.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals will decide if ineligible felons in Pennsylvania can remain comfortably on the voter rolls. ACORN-spawn Project Vote and Soros-fueled DEMOS argue that nobody should bother those ineligible felons, and private citizens can’t hold election bureaucrats to account.
If they win, it will be up to Congress to fix this mess and amend the 24-year-old Motor Voter law. Reforming ObamaCare will feel like a walk in the park by comparison, but the stakes are just as high.