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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

OPINION:

In one respect, Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro deserves kudos.

One of his final acts as Pennsylvania attorney general was bringing charges for alleged voter fraud after a three-year investigation. Not only that, but Mr. Shapiro brought charges against one of his former political consultants.


Admirable enough for a guy being pegged by some as the future of the Democratic Party. The problem is, he rose to national stardom in part by parroting the party line of scoffing at the threat of voter fraud — while insisting democracy’s only threat is Republican voter suppression tactics, the suppression that proved nonexistent in the 2022 elections.

Mr. Shapiro gained significant national attention in 2020 and 2021 fighting the Trump campaign in court — and to the left’s cheers won multiple cases.

This is not suggesting hypocrisy. There is nothing inconsistent about litigating against what he, in his professional legal opinion, considers unproven allegations of voter fraud and prosecuting what he, in his professional legal opinion, considers provable voter fraud. 

The problem was the public attitude Mr. Shapiro took in attacking states that passed measures to expand voter ID and other election integrity measures, while also advocating measures in Pennsylvania that would ultimately make cheating easier.

Pennsylvania has had plenty of election fraud problems in the past. Mr. Shapiro should know.

The recent case from last week is against a Philadelphia Democratic political consultant for allegedly duplicating more than 1,000 signatures on petitions to get his candidate’s name on the 2019 ballot.

In a 2017 case, the attorney general’s office alleged four Philadelphia election workers committed fraud and voter intimidation — among other charges — during a special election for a seat in the state Legislature.

“While there is no evidence the outcome of the election was impacted by the actions of these individuals, we must protect the sanctity of Pennsylvania elections at all costs,” Attorney General Shapiro said at the time.

While it wasn’t Mr. Shapiro’s case, he was surely well aware of the high-profile federal case of former Democratic Rep. Michael “Ozzie” Myers, who pleaded guilty in September to bribing city election officials to stuff ballot boxes in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 elections. The long-running investigation began under the Trump administration’s Justice Department and continued under the Biden administration, as several lower-level election officials pleaded guilty and cut a deal with federal prosecutors aiming for Mr. Myers, the ringleader.

In 2018, a Delaware County man admitted to law enforcement that he forged signatures of dead people on absentee ballots.

Nevertheless, in 2021, Mr. Shapiro tweeted: “Voter suppression bills in states like Georgia and Texas aren’t meant to strengthen our democracy. They’re designed to prevent voters from casting ballots — and it’s those kind of laws we’re fighting against in Pennsylvania.”

First, the election reforms in Georgia, Texas and more than a dozen other states passed in 2021 for the most part did three things: They expanded voter ID requirements to absentee ballots; increased the accuracy of voter registration lists by removing the names of dead or out-of-state voters; and put restrictions on ballot harvesting, the practice of allowing political operatives to collect and distribute mass quantities of absentee ballots. Second, these laws didn’t suppress voting, as the 2022 turnout proved.

Also in 2021, Mr. Shapiro joined 21 other Democratic state attorneys general in a letter to Congress urging passage of Democratic legislation for a federal election takeover.

“To safeguard our democracy, it is vital that Congress act promptly — including, if necessary, to reform the filibuster — to pass legislation protecting against both voter suppression and election subversion,” the letter says.

Mr. Shapiro pushed the democracy-in-peril narrative into his campaign as if former President Donald Trump’s dispute of his 2020 loss put the United States on the brink of tyranny during a midterm election. In the 2022 campaign, Mr. Shapiro ran claiming his opponent would take away voting rights. 

“Over the past two years, American democracy has been threatened like never before,” the Shapiro gubernatorial campaign website says. The site goes on to say he will defend democracy by establishing automatic voter registration and allowing Election Day voter registration — two pillars of the federal takeover legislation that failed in Congress.

Election Day voter registration would cause logistical nightmares for election clerks, and automatic voter registration would be slightly less unmanageable — particularly in a state like Pennsylvania, which has far too many systemic issues keeping elections clean. 

It’s laudatory that Mr. Shapiro’s office prosecuted voter fraud of a Democratic operative. But it’s also notable that the voter suppression he and other Democrats warned about never happened in Pennsylvania — or anywhere else in 2022. Pennsylvania offers only a micro view of the national picture, where evidence show fraud is a problem and suppression is not.

• Fred Lucas, author of “The Myth of Voter Suppression: The Left’s Assault on Clean Elections,” is the manager of the Investigative Reporting Project at The Daily Signal.


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