What if you could go online, anytime, and find out exactly who is eligible to vote in the next election? A new person registers, the name appears. A person dies or moves, the name is removed. All in real time.
We are accustomed to such transparency in many walks of life. Why not elections?
What is so potentially transformative about such a reform is trust. We could finally see with our own eyes what’s largely shrouded from us now. Our current shabby voter registration lists would instantly be made more accurate. The temptation to use the inaccurate registrations for fraud would disappear. Why not, America?
This is what leaps out to me a year after my previous American Greatness op-ed on the heels of the disastrously executed 2020 presidential election. We have come a long way in a year with reforms across the land – voter ID laws, laws banning partisan election operation, and generally adding safeguards back that were stripped away under the cover of COVID hysteria.
Americans consistently say they want common-sense security measures making sure their votes count and that illegal votes do not. They don’t buy the Democrats’ and corporate media spin that voter “suppression” is real.
Two of the broadest problem areas that remain are blanket absentee ballots and our bloated, inaccurate voter rolls. Each gives cover to those inclined to cheat.
A Pew study in 2012 found that 24 million voter registrations “are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.” Mark Hemingway of RealClearInvestigations said in 2019: “America’s voter rolls are a mess and everyone knows it.”
Our organization, Restoration Action, is tackling the voter roll problem with an unprecedented project started last year. We created the Voter Reference Foundation and VoteRef.com, which is publishing state voter rolls online for the first time ever. We are publishing official public records that had previously been buried in thousands of pages of spreadsheets and putting them on plain display.
Now, for the first time, you can easily find out if that dead relative of yours has been voting since they passed away. You can find out if your own vote was counted. You can check how many ballots were cast from that apartment building down the street.
The model for VoteRef.com is the Baseball Reference website, a wellspring of statistical information about baseball. Just the facts.
What we’ve found so far is illuminating. We’ve published the voter rolls in 12 states, representing 30 percent of the U.S. population. In each state, we compared voter histories in 2020 with the official certified totals. In each state there was a discrepancy, ranging from 42 to 74,135. This doesn’t prove or disprove fraud, but it does indicate unacceptably imprecise record keeping. Of our elections.
The astute financial expert and commentator Jeffrey Carter noted the power of our approach. He said once the public grasps the value of VoteRef, crowdsourcing can be a force multiplier when it comes to transparency. He coined the “killer reform” line.
We’d like to take Carter’s analogy a step further. We’ll continue updating the public voter rolls on VoteRef, but there are limits. Election authorities only update the lists at specific times and intervals due to election rules, traditions, and workflows. Months sometimes pass without public updating, even though names are added and subtracted all the time.
Let’s make a resolution to get rid of those transparency gaps altogether. Let’s push election officials and legislatures to transition to a real-time updated voter roll that the public has immediate access to at all times. Radical transparency is needed to fix a radical distrust problem that permeates our land.
In the meantime, check out the lists at VoteRef.com. We believe it’s a powerful first step in truly cleaning up our voter rolls along the way to 24/7 transparency.
We’ve just begun to restore trust in our elections. In 2021, we started the process. In 2022, let’s take another giant step forward. Americans are losing respect and confidence in all our major institutions. Our great republic is teetering. Let’s reverse the trend when it comes to elections.
Doug Truax is founder and president of Restoration PAC/Action, a West Point and Ranger School graduate, successful health insurance entrepreneur, and a former U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois.