But first, let's settle the question of whether voter fraud is possible and what areas of the voting system are vulnerable to fraud. I propose we answer those questions definitively.
Early in 2013, there will be a special election for the House seat being vacated by Representative Terry Morrow (D St Peter). A few weeks later, there will be another special election for the seat being vacated by Rep Steve Gottwalt (R-St Cloud). These election processes, confined to the boundaries of House district 19A and 14A respectively, provide a golden opportunity to test the security of our election process in Minnesota in a manageable way and highlight any areas to improve on in terms of voter fraud. My proposal is quite simple.
Every bar and restaurant that serves alcohol in Minnesota, along with every establishment that sells tobacco products, is subject to undercover enforcement operations, a fact I became keenly aware of when I became Post Commander for my local VFW. City and county police departments recruit minors to go into businesses to attempt to purchase products they are not legally old enough to buy. This model of enforcement not only identifies areas of weakness in the system that need to be addressed, but provides a motivation to bartenders and gas station attendants; check those ID’s or you could end up fired or in jail. It also motivates businesses to train their employees to the letter of the law and hold them to high standards when checking for ID.
So why not apply this model to our elections? Because special elections are generally administered by county auditors, let’s call on a dozen county auditors across the state to test the election system undercover. Just like with liquor and cigarettes, let’s send a variety of people, either the auditors themselves or people recruited by them, into the polls to see if they can cast an illegal ballot. The auditors know best what the strengths of the system are, and also what the weak points are.
The Army taught me many years ago when I was promoted the golden rule of leadership; you don’t get what you expect, you get what you inspect. Can a registered voter really vouch for people they don’t know? Can a fraudulent voter give the name of a registered voter who had their house foreclosed on and get their ballot? The only way to know these answers for sure is to inspect the system from the outside.
Governor Dayton already convened a task force on election integrity back in 2011, so they could naturally oversee the project. Poll testers would be required to record the details of any ballot they are able to cast, so that those votes could be discounted. Hidden cameras could be used to ensure that rules of the test were followed. Give poll testers a motivation to succeed, say a small financial reward, and we can be assured of their best efforts.
Opponents of the Photo ID amendment stated time and again that their opposition was to the way the language was written, and that they favored sending the idea ‘back to the legislature’. If they were telling the truth, they should have at least as much motivation as those who advocated for photo ID to have a serious test of our election integrity, so we can know for sure if we are vulnerable to election fraud.