Bob Ehrlich: We Can't Back Down in the Fight for Voter Integrity


The State of Maryland has issued new requirements for some Marylanders with older drivers’ licenses to supply additional personal identification in order to avoid revocation — former governors not exempted!

The additional requirements are all about submitting the proper paperwork to the DMV in order to comply with the federal “Real ID Act.” In the real world, it means that one will be able to access federal buildings and board commercial aircraft.

Little controversy surrounds the new requirement. It’s all common sense. Why would a free society not have stringent requirements in order to secure a reliable ID card? After all, in today’s society, it’s nearly impossible to do anything (or go anywhere) without one.

I thought about the new identification requirements while reading about the burgeoning popularity of “ballot harvesting” — the relatively new practice of collecting and submitting absentee or mail-in ballots by volunteers (union workers, campaign workers, etc.).

Yes, you read that right. It is now permissible in 19 states to “harvest” votes in this manner. Those (like me) who have expressed strong views on ballot security over the years are more than mildly perturbed. And it almost goes without saying that those of us who prefer to see only living, legal citizens on the voter rolls, and who readily provide proof of our identity at the polls, are (you guessed it) labeled as “racists” by progressives and their media allies.

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The by-now-familiar indictment alleges that requiring valid proof of identity at the ballot box discriminates against minority voters, who allegedly have less access to the ways and means of securing state-issued identity cards. And this during an era wherein even states with stringent federal ID requirements have gone the extra mile to accommodate lesser-served populations in their quest for a photo ID.

Nevertheless, the accusation lives because it fits the popular leftist narrative: Republicans will attempt to suppress the African-American vote at every opportunity and at any cost.

GOP initiatives aimed at forcing local election officials to purge dead or otherwise ineligible voters from the voter rolls are likewise labeled unfair, discriminatory and racist. (Which brings up the old line that Republicans want scrubbed voter rolls because the deceased always vote a straight-line Democratic ticket.) Still, a number of recent court decisions have forced local election officials to clean up their act — and their rolls.

Against this backdrop of distrust and unsupported innuendo comes the harvesting initiative. To be fair, the GOP does not have completely clean hands here: a North Carolina GOP operative was accused of illegal harvesting in the 2016 general election and 2018 Republican congressional primary in District 9. Seems North Carolina-style harvesting is limited to family members or legal guardians.

Still, the questionable practice really took off this past November when California Democrats pulled off seven Orange County, California (traditionally a GOP stronghold) House seats in the 2018 midterms.

You see, California’s more liberal harvesting statute (excuse the redundancy) allows anyone to pick up and deliver absentee ballots from the field to the poll. Proponents insist it is an appropriate practice for people who have mobility issues or lack access to post offices; opponents see it more as an invitation to fraud.

And, if you dare oppose this preferred remedy to the problem of poor voter turnout, then you are nothing more than a dirty denier of our most cherished right — and, of course, a racist to boot.

The only way common sense loses this debate is to back down — to let the usual race-conscious suspects capture the moral high ground and stay there.

I, for one, prefer to win on this one. Voting integrity is fundamental to free and fair elections. Just plain ole folks showing up with bundles of votes in tow does not scratch my itch. In fact, it makes me downright suspicious. The bottom line: voters who care about election integrity must not be intimidated, lest a batch of questionable ballots arrives to cloud yet another election day.

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By the way, if you think the national Democratic Party does not see this initiative as an absolute priority, think again. The number attached to a congressional bill can mean something. House Bill 1 of the new Congress seeks to federalize election law oversight and require every state to implement a vote by mail system. Each will aid in the adoption of vote harvesting. Informed is forewarned.

Now, get to work spreading the word about this latest affront to our mainstream values…

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.