Our right to vote is one of the core foundations of the American republic. Elections determine the future of towns and cities, states and the nation, and as such, every American must be able to say with confidence that electoral results are reliable and reflect the will of all eligible voters—and only eligible voters. This is why ensuring the integrity of the electoral system is so important. So long as elections are pathways to power and prestige, there will be those who would rather rig the vote than risk a loss. Vote fraudsters dilute honest votes and sometimes even change electoral outcomes.
The Heritage Foundation’s voter fraud database catalogues hundreds of cases from across the nation in which individuals were convicted of lying about their residency, casting fraudulent absentee ballots, or voting more than once in an attempt to alter the democratic will of the majority.
Here are some of the latest cases added to the ever growing list:
- The 2010 Democratic primary in the 40th district of Missouri was down to the wire. In that election, Clara and John Moretina falsified a Kansas City address so they could vote for their nephew, John Joseph Rizzo. Rizzo won the primary by a single vote. This means that the Moretinas’ two fraudulent ballots likely were the deciding votes. John Moretina pleaded guilty to a federal charge of voting fraud, while Clara, who was not charged in the federal case, was convicted by the state of Missouri. Both were fined $250 and barred from ever voting again in the state of Missouri.
- Olivia Lee Reynolds was convicted of 24 counts of absentee voter fraud. She was working on the 2013 campaign of her boyfriend, Dothan City Commissioner Amos Newsome. Reynolds filled out voters’ ballots for them and told other voters to vote for Newsome. Newsome lost the in-person vote count but won the election by 14 votes when he received 119 of the 124 absentee votes cast in the election. Reynolds, who has filed an appeal of her conviction, was sentenced to 6 months in a community corrections facility.
- Former state representative Christina Ayala voted in a series of elections, including the 2012 presidential election, in districts in which she did not reside. She even fabricated evidence to back up her false residency statements when confronted by state investigators. Before pleading guilty to two counts of providing a false statement, Ayala faced eight counts of fraudulent voting, ten counts of primary or enrollment violations, and one count of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence. As a condition of her plea deal, she is barred from seeking elected office for two years and faces a one-year suspended prison sentence followed by two years of conditional discharge.
These individuals are just a small piece of the pie regarding voter fraud convictions in this country. And, of course, for every conviction, there are likely many others whose crimes go undetected. The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies has a report, Does Your Vote Count?, that outlines commonsense measures that can be taken to ensure the integrity of our electoral system without impairing the voting rights of any citizen.
Amid the pandemonium of party primaries, Americans need to be reassured that their votes matter. It is only through thoughtful precautions that governments will ensure that this is the case. As the fabled words carved outside the National Archives remind us, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”