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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Election Integrity Commission will resume its work in September, now that the frivolous lawsuits against it are, one by one, being dismissed. The most recent case is in New Hampshire, where the American Civil Liberties Union has dropped a case over sharing publicly available voter information with the commission. The Granite State compromised and will comply. More states are beginning to come around.

More states, but not all.


Take Maryland, for example. State leaders there have thus far decided not only to resist the commission’s request for public voter data but are also smearing the commission members with insulting and almost vicious rhetoric.

Maryland leadership is taking their cues from extreme left-wing activist groups like Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which have been pushing the narrative that the commission was created only to address President Trump’s claim of illegal votes in the 2016 election.

“I find this request for the personal information of millions of Marylanders repugnant,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh in a statement. “It appears designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote. Repeating incessantly a false story of expansive voter fraud, and then creating a commission to rule that narrative, does not make it any more true.”

CREW and Mr. Frosh need only look at the executive order creating the commission to see their error, but they have a vested interest in smearing the very idea of integrity in elections: They have several counties that currently allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections with more planned for the future.

In a revealing piece posted at LifeZette, a watchdog group postulates that Maryland is playing the long game in an attempt to undermine election integrity efforts to “air fringe ideas for serious consideration” since Democrats fear their political marginalization may be a lasting sentence.

Logan Churchwell, the communications director for the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), told LifeZette in an email that although Maryland municipalities have the legal right to “set eligibility standards for local elections,” this “latest move is indicative of a much larger effort” on the part of progressives to cement their political power.

“Progressives have long viewed noncitizen voting as a way to build lasting political power regardless of momentary trends,” he wrote. “The modern left understands that it cannot inflict its will — even in the bluest of states — in single moves. Incrementalism is key.”

Maryland’s trenchant refusal to help the commission clean up voter rolls is odd, especially given that even doggedly vocal leaders in true-blue states have eventually come around. Even New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio eventually acquiesced. Judicial Watch recently sued Montgomery County, Md., over suspicion that there are more registered voters there than eligible voters. Judicial Watch is eyeing California for the same reason.

Both these states have pushed back hard against the commission’s request for public voter data, and there is reason to suspect it’s because a peek at their voter rolls would prove they are in bad shape.

California, for example, admitted as much this past weekend when it was discovered that 11 counties in that state had more registered voters than eligible voters.

Their excuse? It’s common for voter rolls to be a mess. In this case to the tune of “between 102 percent and 144 percent higher than the actual number of people of voting age, depending on the county.”

California has offered some excuse for the shape of the voting data they did not want the commission to see as late as June, at that time calling the election integrity effort “bogus.” And the state also attempted to explain away its incompetence by declaring it normal.

Maryland is taking a different tack. Rather than offering up excuses, they continue to withhold public voter information, smear the commission and its members, and hold votes on incrementally changing the foundation of the voting system to benefit Democrats (since most illegal voters and younger-than-voting-age voters — who they would like to allow to vote in municipal elections — tend to vote Democrat.)

Perhaps Maryland has more to hide than even California.

• Sarah Lee, a political and communications strategist in Washington, D.C., is a media consultant for the Republican National Lawyers Association.


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