That’s a bad-sounding headline, right there, and people interested in election integrity can be forgiven for shaking their heads in disgust at a Supreme Court that, it appears, doesn’t care if thousands of people who are not eligible to vote in US elections just waltz in and cast ballots alongside US citizens. Considering the ramifications of that it’s understandable that those of us concerned with securing our elections process are tempted to throw our hands up and demand that SCOTUS deign to tell us just how we’re supposed to validate that only US citizens vote when they’re now telling us we can’t.
It certainly sounds like that’s the situation, given the media reporting on the matter, but the decision in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council (PDF) was quite a bit more specific than that. At issue was AZ’s attempt to require that persons using a federal elections form to register to vote had to provide proof of citizenship for that form to be accepted. SCOTUS ruled that AZ could not do so – and that’s all. The case was an attempt by people, largely on the Left, to preempt any state from attempting to validate voting eligibility at all and in any venue. In other words, these people want an individual’s voter application form to be a no-questions-asked ticket to the voting roles. They would also like to preempt the states from being able to validate ID and eligibility when actually voting but that is not what this case was ever about.
In short, very little of what they are attempting to achieve was granted to them in this ruling. All the ruling stated was that AZ could not ask for more documentation for a person to use the federal voting registration form than the federal law required. What it does not do is in any way affect the handling of the state voter registration process, which is what most – nearly all – voters use. It also does nothing to preempt states from validating ID’s at the polls on election day. In fact, the ruling explicitly affirms that states and states alone have the authority to determine the eligibility of voters in their states.
Many of those same people on the Left are quick to wave dismissively and sneer at anyone concerned with elections integrity by claiming that voter fraud just doesn’t happen. They’re wrong:
On Monday, there was some closure to the case, though, as the four defendants who were convicted or pleaded guilty in the state’s presidential petition fraud scandal were sentenced. Only one received prison time for the illegal scheme that touched the race for the White House.
The plot successfully faked names and signatures on both the Obama and Clinton presidential petitions that were used to place the candidates on the ballot. So many names were forged — an estimated 200 or more — that prosecutor Stanley Levco said that had the fraud been caught during the primary, "the worst that would have happened, is maybe Barack Obama wouldn’t have been on the ballot for the primary."
It’s naïve in the extreme to think that these people would engage in that level of voter fraud in a primary but not in the actual election. We clearly need authentication and validation systems in place. While the ruling from SCOTUS in this case appears, on its face, to undermine that effort, the fact of the matter is that it does not. It is actually a case where SCOTUS ruled as the law is written as opposed to how they might think it should be and it affirms the states’ authority to determine their own voter eligibility requirements. In the end, that’s a victory for our side and I’ll take it happily.