Democrats, Voter Fraud, and Harpo Marx

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Are Republicans “election deniers” and “vote suppressers” because they keep finding voter fraud in critical battleground states?

Democrats are certainly making that claim, with Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, the chief purveyor of that charge. But the Democrats, as it turns out, appear willing to use almost any excuse to oppose good-faith efforts to ensure ballot integrity.

Last year, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights relayed this interesting fact: Georgia is the only state to adopt five of the most common “voter suppressive tactics.” Among them: Voter-ID laws, proof of citizenship, cutbacks in early voting, and purges from the rolls of those who had not turned out to vote in recent elections.

Here’s another tidbit courtesy of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission: Between the 2016 and 2018 elections, the states removed 17 million voters for having failed to vote, moving between voting districts, dying, committing a disqualifying crime, or being judged mentally incapacitated.

Democrats are acting as if this is the end of democracy, but it’s in tune with the famous 2005 bipartisan report by former Democratic President Jimmy Carter and former Republican Secretary of State James Baker.

Their recommendations for secure elections included “stronger efforts to combat fraud, especially in absentee voting”; “Voter identification based on a universally REAL ID card” and “Auditable paper backups for all voting technology.”

Defenders of Georgia’s anti-corruption rules and regulations make the point that the purge laws don’t disenfranchise anyone.

“If they [eligible voters] don’t heed warnings or respond to notices sent out by election officials, it’s their own fault,” says Lynn Westmoreland, a Republican former congressman from Georgia, who has worked on election policy throughout his career. “And if they didn’t get to vote then, they’ll get to vote in the next election.” (But, of course, they would have to comply with the laws that those who were permitted to vote did.)

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Efforts to rig elections, in truth, are about as American as apple pie, even though the fraudsters have not always been able to steal or suppress enough votes to change the outcome.

National Review’s John Fund and The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, for instance, have chronicled a remarkable number of proven cases of past and present crookery, reflected in Al Franken’s razor-thin victory for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota (winning by 312 votes), which made Obamacare a reality, and the Kennedy-Nixon presidential election in 1960, where massive fraud in Cook County, Illinois, helped JFK capture the presidency.

Looking back on U.S. elections in the 19th century, the Brookings Institution observed, “indifference, fraud, corruption and violence have marked the operation of our electoral system.”

Both parties have engaged in corrupting elections, but the Democrats seem to have the edge on such activities. Larry Sabato and Glenn Simpson in their book, “Dirty Little Secrets,” note that the “pool of people who appear to be available and more vulnerable to an invitation to participate in vote fraud [because of their poor economic circumstances] tend to lean Democratic.”

Mayor Frank Hague, whose political machine governed Jersey City, N.J., from 1917 to 1947 was a legendary vote manipulator, controlling the state through bribery, roughing up foes, and the destruction and alteration of ballots. But nowhere, Fund argues, “did voter fraud have a more notorious record than in Tammany-era New York.

Tammany dealt with operatives who would guarantee thick bundles of votes for a price.”

The immigrants flowing into New York were easily manipulated with Tammany Hall setting up “a ‘naturalization mill,’ instantly certifying folks right off the boat as citizens—and Tammany voters.”

In 1996, Fund reminds us, “the Clinton administration similarly sped up the naturalization of up to one million new citizens so that they could vote in time for that year’s election.”

Harpo Marx of Marx Brothers fame, who was a friend of my father, Morrie Ryskind, and starred in many of his plays and pictures, spelled out Tammany’s power and allure in his memoir, “Harpo Speaks!”, a copy of which he inscribed to my parents.

He relates how Tammany made Election Day the most memorable time of the year for immigrants, with, among other things, festivities, free beer, and cigars. The great holiday lasted a full 30 hours, capped by a magnificent bonfire lit by the neighborhood kids who had begged, borrowed, and stolen fuel for the grand occasion.

On election eve, as Harpo vividly portrays the scene, the Tammany forces “marched up and down the avenue by torchlight, with bugles blaring and drums booming.” About noon on Election Day, Tammany’s hired hands provided a hansom cab that would pull up to his family’s house and take his dad and granddad, “puffing on those Tammany cigars,” to the polls.

They were dressed in their best suits, normally reserved for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and funerals. About a half-hour after they cast the votes and returned home, the cab would reappear and they “would go off to vote again. If it was a tough year, with a Reform movement threatening the city, they would be taken to vote a third time.”

No one complained that “Grandpa happened not to be a United States citizen, or that he couldn’t read or write English. He knew which side of the ballot to put his ‘X’ on.”

Then came the night when a whole generation of kids began pouring out of the brownstones, lighting bonfires, and setting the East Side ablaze. It was a glorious sight. Taking a deep drag on the cigar he had received for voting illegally, his granddad told the young Harpo in German: “Ah, we are lucky to be in America. Ah, yes! This is true democracy.”

From the historical record, Democrats would still seem to prefer Tammany-style “democracy.” Since the 2020 election, Fund informs Newsmax, liberals have continued to engage in methods “that undermine election integrity that would make honest liberals from Jimmy Carter to Tulsi Gabbard appalled.”

Even Pennsylvania’s highly liberal state Supreme Court felt impelled to rule as unconstitutional Democratic efforts “to count mail-in ballots if they had incorrect dates or were undated.”

Fund also tells Newsmax that Michigan’s fraud deniers keep losing “in their attempt to keep 28,000 deceased people registered on Michigan voter rolls. Delaware, Joe Biden’s home state, saw a state court declare unconstitutional its attempt to impose same-day registration and no-excuse mail-voting—two ingredients in the stew that can promote voter fraud.”

A lot of us in the news media will turn to John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky to see how the political heirs to Tammany Hall have fared.

This article first appeared at Newsmax. It’s reprinted here with permission.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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The post Democrats, Voter Fraud, and Harpo Marx appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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