Over the past four years, FreedomWorks has helped the conservative and libertarian movements grow and thrive. A million people marched on Capitol Hill in 2009. The GOP won a 60+ seat majority in the House in 2010. Freedomworks’ Super PAC raised over $15 million and spearheaded GOTV efforts in Senate races across the country planting yard signs by the truckload as far as the eye can see. Yet, conservatives lost many of the races we cared about most in 2012. While it has been argued that the top of our ticket did not inspire some, the fact remains that we did not get our voters to the polls in races we cared about most. If conservatives and libertarians are to achieve a Hostile Takeover of the GOP, we need to elect candidates whose loyalty to principle is greater than their loyalty to party. In order to do that, we need to move beyond being a political movement and become a political operation.
There have been many recriminations over the past week as to the cause of the GOP electoral defeat. Some have suggested the GOP is the Leave it to Beaver party that has failed to keep up with ‘shifting demographics’. Others have pointed to the failure of Mitt Romney’s GOTV software known as Project ORCA. While Project ORCA was clearly a technological failure, the greater failure was that Mitt Romney’s GOTV effort was not localized. The same can be said of Mitt Romney’s voter integrity effort. As an election lawyer in Philadelphia, it does not surprise me that Mitt Romney did not receive a single vote in 59 Philadelphia voting divisions.
From the moment poles opened until well into the afternoon, I observed long lines of voters snaking through polling locations in heavily Democrat neighborhoods of Philadelphia where every voter was handed a card instructing them how to vote. These are similar to the cards that were handed out in heavily Democrat neighborhoods in Bridgeport, CT in 2010. No such lines existed in Republican neighborhoods and similar cards were not handed out to voters asking them to vote for Republican or conservative candidates.
From the time that poles opened until the moment they closed, there was a concerted effort by Philadelphia voting officials to weigh their thumbs on the scale of the election. Democrats fought efforts to seat Republican voting inspectors despite being presented with court orders to do so. In one instance, an election judge and the Democrat voting inspectors abandoned their polling location for the entire day, upset at being forced to work alongside Republican inspectors. I observed multiple instances of electioneering inside polling locations and had to return to the same polling locations on multiple occasions to chase electioneers away. I was even forced to instruct an election judge not to ‘pull the lever’ for a voter. When election judges were informed of electioneering inside their polling locations, they often pled ignorance or lack of responsibility notwithstanding instructions to the contrary from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office.
It is no longer sufficient for conservatives to drive the ideological agenda yet rely on party officials to drive GOTV and voter integrity efforts. Grassroots conservatives and independent groups must fund and organize these initiatives with the same level of urgency that liberal groups do. I observed two union painters asking for a receipt after they voted. When offered an ‘I voted’ sticker, they demurred insisting that the election judge provide them with a written receipt for having voted so their union boss could pay them for their time. Unions and liberal interest groups are reliable Democrat voters because they have significant economic interests at stake. Taxpayers, however, have just as much at stake as they are the ones footing the bills. Yet, taxpayers have not behaved with the same degree of urgency.
In my experience, the Republican party has done a poor job organizing, planning and funding GOTV and election integrity efforts. It is time for grassroots conservatives and independent groups to step in if we are to save our country. Grassroots conservatives cannot merely register at True the Vote and watch polls in their own neighborhood. They must be vigilant in the prevention of fraud in neighborhoods where fraud traditionally occurs in states and elections where the stakes are highest. Grassroots conservatives must staff, fund, plan and organize these efforts with the same level of care and commitment that unions and liberal interest groups do.
Barack Obama needed a 450,000 vote margin in Philadelphia to defeat Mitt Romney by 300,000 votes in Pennsylvania. Barack Obama needed a 240,000 vote margin in Cleveland to defeat Mitt Romney by 100,000 votes in Ohio. If conservatives do not want Cleveland and Philadelphia to continue to decide elections, let this serve as a wake-up call. Otherwise, America is destined to become a nation of Clevelands and Philadelphias.
— FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks) November 13, 2012
I was a poll watcher in Bridgeport, CT in 2010. For those of you not familiar, the Mayor of Bridgeport set off a recent firestorm by promising to swing the 2012 U.S. Senate election for Democrat Chris Murphy. How can he do that? Let me tell you what happened in 2010.
The 2010 Connecticut Governor’s race was a closely fought election. The final result was a Democrat victory by 5000 votes. On the morning after election day, the result showed a different outcome. The Secretary of State ordered an insufficient supply of ballots so in the middle of the afternoon, election precincts across the state began to run out. Extra unnumbered, unaudited copies of ballots were photocopied and handed out to voters during the late afternoon. As they were not printed on special computer readable paper, they were not fed through the scantron machine so they were secured in a special storage bin which began overflowing by the early evening. In fact, so many ballots were cast that they had to be collected in shopping bags. At the end of the evening, after polls were kept open for an additional two hours by a judicial order meant to accommodate voters who were unable to vote during the fifteen minutes that polls were closed mid-afternoon, the ballots were secured and tabulated. A tally was sent to the Registrar of Voters which engaged in a marathon counting session throughout the night. By morning, with the final official tally on the fax machine set to be reported to the Secretary of State in the capital, someone miraculously found a bag of missing ballots and thus set off days of additional counts and recounts which swelled the margin of victory of the Democrat candidate. To paraphrase President Obama, the situation was ‘not optimal’ to say the least.
What can be done?
(1) Volunteer to be a poll watcher with your local campaign and organizations like True the Vote. The primary job of a poll watcher is not to catch fraud but to deter it. Leftist groups attack True the Vote because they know that it is easier to cheat when people are not watching.
(2) Be prepared. Republicans were not adequately prepared in Connecticut in 2010. Election supervisors are not generally lawyers and can be taken aback when their discretion is challenged by a member of the opposition party, sometimes for the first time. Poll watchers need to be able to rely on a team of local lawyers who can escalate issues to a local judge or magistrate. Many disagreements amount to minor misunderstandings of the law and can be handled expeditiously if poll watchers have support from the local campaign. In Connecticut in 2010, all disputes including the decision to keep polls open an additional two hours were litigated in the state capital several hours away. Had anyone asked, the appropriate remedy would have been to keep polls open an additional fifteen minutes as that is how long they had been closed.
(3) Remember that the primary job of the poll watcher is to deter fraud and that can only be accomplished if you are in the room. Within an hour of my arrival at the polling location, the election supervisor asked the Deputy Registrar of Voters, accompanied by two state troopers, to speak with me because I had the temerity to challenge the qualification of voters who did not present proper ID. I could have been intimidated and gone home or I could have been infuriated and gotten arrested. Neither would have accomplished the ultimate goal of deterring fraud as both would have placed me outside the room. If your campaign does not have enough poll watchers to cover every polling location where you anticipate problems, assign teams of roving poll watchers and lawyers to cover them on a random basis and let the election supervisor know you will be checking in periodically.
(4) Assert the power of the provisional ballot! A provisional ballot is a ballot cast by a voter whose eligibility is in question. It allows an independent arbiter to determine the eligibility of the voter after voting is complete. If a voter whose eligibility is in question is allowed to cast a regular ballot, that vote is commingled with those of legitimate voters and it is not possible to remedy the situation if the voter is later determined to be ineligible.
(5) Fight for in-person voter ID laws that require the voter to present a state issued photo id that includes the voter’s address at an in-person voting location. This simple law would obviate much absentee ballot fraud, fraud where voters cast ballots in multiple locations, and fraud advocated by Congressman Moran’s son where criminals impersonate voters living and deceased to cast votes. As an election lawyer in Maine in 2008, I watched a student voter at the state university present a Sports Illustrated magazine label as proof of residence and then sign an affidavit that his girlfriend lived with him as proof of her residence. While both facts may have been true, there is no way to verify either independently or to have determined at the time whether either person had voted absentee in his home district.
Elections will never be without fraud. Too much power and money is at stake. If our sons and daughters are prepared to sacrifice their lives in the most desolate corners of the earth to preserve our freedom and our right to vote, the least we can do is take the proper measures to ensure that elections are conducted as honestly as possible.
The study released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States found that about 1.8 million dead people are still on the rolls and many more are approved to vote in multiple states. About 12 million registrations contain address inaccuracies. Researchers say they don’t see evidence of widespread fraud but believe outdated state systems are failing to keep pace with changes in people’s lives.
Voter ID is important to have in place in the general election because close elections do happen and when close elections happen, the American public should have confidence in the result. Every voter wants to know their vote counts and is not cancelled out by someone who is not eligible to vote… especially in a close race. Voter ID is an important tool in that process. It’s the president of the United States we’re voting for. Shouldn’t we have some integrity in that process and confidence in the result?