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Op-Ed: Michigan’s fraudulent registration scheme is no blessing

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Last week, we learned that a left-wing ballot harvesting company delivered almost 10,000 fraudulent voter applications to a single town in Michigan in 2020. This is bad, right? Wrong! The Michigan Attorney General’s office tells us that because an intrepid elections clerk discovered the fraud, we should take comfort that the system worked and that our elections are reliable and secure.

What nonsense. Putting the weight of our electoral system on the effort of a single error-free human is akin to Jim Harbaugh praising his team after winning on a tipped and missed field goal. In truth, the state got lucky this time. And lucky is no way to run an election.

Here are the facts as recounted by the Michigan AG’s office. A small number of low-level employees of a national enterprise called GBI Strategies illegally submitted fake voter registration applications to Muskegon County. They did this because GBI Strategies compensated them, at least in part, on a per-submission basis. And their plot was foiled only when the local clerk detected fake addresses and forged signatures. After looking into the matter, Michigan authorities shoved the case to the FBI and wiped their hands of it.

In this version of events, the “problem” is isolated and completely addressed. GBI Strategies is a one-time victim. The attempted fraud targeted a single town. No fraudulent voter registrations were counted, so no fraudulent votes were cast, and, therefore, no state prosecutions were necessary.

But that’s the wrong lens with which to view this story.

For one, we’re asked to see GBI Strategies, an entity financed by Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, as the innocent victim of its employees’ fraud. But trustworthy enterprises have internal controls to deter and detect fraud by their employees. The better view is that even if GBI Strategies as a whole did not willfully perpetrate fraud, surely its procedures for detecting fraud were woefully insufficient. Smaller failures in businesses far less important to our democracy have spurred investigations, prosecutions, and onerous new laws.

Second, we’re left to assume Muskegon is an isolated incident rather than the tip of the iceberg. But, GBI Strategies operated throughout the state in 2020. Questions remain about whether similar efforts occurred, perhaps with more success, in other parts of the state.

And finally, we’re asked to consider an FBI referral as the end of Michigan’s road. Why? The Michigan AG acknowledges massive attempted fraud amounting to 21% of Muskegon’s entire population. State law prosecutions not only remain available, but would surely deter others from trying to corrupt Michigan’s elections in the future.

In other words, contrary to the government-spun narrative, the system quite obviously did not work. Substitute a sick or busy clerk for Muskegon’s diligent clerk, and Michigan’s voter rolls are corrupted by many thousands of fake entries. Perhaps well-rested clerks are essential to our elections, but a functioning election system would have deterred fraudulent applications in the first place or made it virtually certain that they would be weeded out before damaging the electoral system, including by regulating who can fill them out, how they are signed, and how they are submitted to the state.

That’s why Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) and its affiliated PAC (RITE PAC) are defending state efforts to regulate entities like GBI Strategies throughout the country, including in places like Florida and Kansas. These laws do things like require voters to personally fill out and physically sign their own registration applications. They also require entities to register with the state, preclude felons from collecting registration applications, and limit the number of applications any one person can submit. In every case, these states are trying to ensure more voter involvement and less third-party involvement in the process. That is basic risk management, making it more likely that, when there is fraud, it is individualized, detected, and does not infect the system as a whole.

This work fosters trust in elections and protects our critical institutions of democratic government. There is no reason states should have to rely on lucky breaks like the one in Muskegon to safeguard their voter registration system. While it is great to be lucky, resting the weight of free and fair elections on the shoulders of overworked county clerks is no way for a first-world country to function. That’s not a partisan observation. It’s an American one.

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