After President Trump proclaimed to the world that the only reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million was that 3 million or more ballots were cast fraudulently — by noncitizens, by the dead or by Box 13 in Alice, Texas, where ballot stuffing first elected Lyndon Johnson to Congress, perhaps — the media dutifully reported that there is no evidence, no proof, no foundation for such a claim.
Even Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske put out a statement saying her office was unaware of any “evidence” to support claims of voter fraud here.
“There is no evidence of voters illegally casting ballots at the most recent election in Nevada,” reads a statement posted on her website. “The Secretary of State’s office is aware of attempted fraud related to voter registration in Nevada; however, with the help of local election officials, we were able to investigate and make one arrest.”
There is no evidence because voters are not required to prove they are citizens or to show valid ID to prove they are who they say they are. How many people after the fact are going to come forward and volunteer that they voted fraudulently?
Recently a former newspaper columnist, Vin Suprynowicz, dredged up a 2012 column by fellow columnist Glenn Cook that found there really is “evidence,” but only if you really look for it and actually, you know, ask questions. (I also wrote about it at the time.)
Cook spoke shortly before the election that year with two immigrant noncitizens who had been registered to vote by a representative of their union, Culinary Local 226 in Clark County. They spoke English but didn’t read it very well. They told Cook the Culinary official who registered them to vote didn’t tell them what they were signing and didn’t ask whether they were citizens. Later, Culinary canvassers started seeking them out and ordering them to go vote.
Cook verified their identities, their lack of citizenship and their status as active registered voters.
The two said they did not have to show a photo ID to register and merely showed a Culinary health insurance card and a power bill.
“One would establish identity and one would establish residence,” then-Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax told the columnist. “Just like every other voter in Nevada, they will not be asked to prove citizenship.”
The Culinary political director denied the union canvassers do such things.
Shortly before the election this year The Associated Press reported that the Culinary union in Las Vegas had registered 34,000 of its members to vote and had reassigned 150 of its members to full-time political work, intending to knock on 200,000 doors and confront their co-workers in casino cafeterias and by phone. The union also chartered buses to shuttle casino workers to an early voting site during their paid lunch break, and handed each a boxed lunch.
According to a New York Times account shortly before the election, 56 percent of the Clark County Culinary union’s 57,000 members were Latino. No indication how many were citizens.
According to Pew Research Center, in 2014 Nevada had the highest ratio of illegal alien workers in the nation at 10.4 percent.
Cook spoke to just two people who should not have been registered to vote and should not have been pressured to vote nor pressured to vote for the union ticket. How many more there might have been is unknown, because no one is asking.
And, while we are not speculating about the impact such votes might’ve had on the 2016 election, we will note that Hillary Clinton lost in every county in Nevada except Clark and Washoe, while newly elected Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto lost in every county save Clark, as did the new Congressional District 4 Rep. Ruben Kihuen.
Nevada lawmakers should take the opportunity in the coming session to require proof of citizenship and a photo ID. Our current honor system is just too risky, especially in close races.
A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.