The presidential election Nov. 3 is now just days away. Is election security really at stake? Can states turn into vote-by-mail jurisdictions virtually overnight, as so many have done during the COVID-19 pandemic? Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., a member of the Committee on House Administration, joins The Daily Signal Podcast to discuss.
We also cover these stories:
- Ahead of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s expected Senate confirmation Monday night to the Supreme Court, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, becomes the only Senate Republican to say she won’t vote for President Donald Trump’s nominee.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops by 950 points. The 3.4% decrease marks the worst day for markets since June.
- The U.S. reaches a new record of 68,767 coronavirus cases a day on a seven-day average, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.
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Rachel del Guidice: We’re joined today on “The Daily Signal Podcast” by Congressman Rodney Davis, a ranking member from Illinois, who is on the House Administration Committee. Congressman Davis, it’s great to have you with us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
Rep. Rodney Davis: Well, Rachel, it’s great to be on with you.
Del Guidice: Well, as the election is just now days away, I want to talk to you about is election security at stake, given the huge increase in mail-in voting and absentee voting that we’re seeing this election?
Davis: I think that’s on a state-by-state basis. If you look at states like Illinois, I’m glad that we have a process that does not mail live ballots out to every registered voter. But in states like California and New York, they’re going to mail live ballots to every registered voter.
Even at the same time, when you look at California, there has been estimated over a million erroneously registered voters in Los Angeles County alone as of May of this year.
But because of some of the corrupt public officials in that state, they’re going to mail live ballots out to those erroneously registered individuals. That’s ripe for fraud.
We saw it happen in North Carolina’s 9th District in the last election, when ballot harvesting fraud was committed by a Republican operative. And we know what’s going to happen elsewhere and California just seems to decide to take it to the next level.
Del Guidice: Congressman, what’s your perspective on the push we’ve seen? I think a large part of it has been due to coronavirus, with the huge push we’ve seen for all-mail voting as a substitute for going to the polls and casting one’s vote at the polls.
Davis: I think before we ever have a discussion on vote by mail in a universal way throughout this country, we have to go talk to the voters. Fifty-nine percent of the voters polled want to vote on Election Day at their polling place. So we have to take that into consideration before anybody tries to nationalize the election process.
There are some states that have implemented fully vote-by-mail systems. But when you look at those systems, even Secretary of State of Washington state Kim Wyman, who helped implement one of those systems, she says it takes a minimum of five years to get a system in place.
Democrats have tried to do it in less than a year, and it would have failed if they would have been successful.
Del Guidice: Has your state of Illinois experienced any situations of voter fraud when it comes to mail-in or absentee voting?
Davis: There’s always instances of fraud that we’re worried about. But Illinois, I’ve got to give Republicans and Democrats in the state Legislature some credit, they came together and put together a COVID response that still has an emphasis on Election Day voting, polling place locations.
They mailed absentee ballot requests, mail-in ballot requests that we used to call no-fault absentee, rather than mailing live ballots.
But it’s those states like California that I think should concern a lot of Americans. That’s what the President talks about when he talks about it’s ripe for fraud.
Rachel, at a recent hearing, I had [California] Secretary of State Alex Padilla as one of the Democratic witnesses. He couldn’t even commit to me that he had removed already identified deceased individuals from the voter rolls in California. That’s just corruption at its highest level.
Del Guidice: Did he not know or did he just not want to disclose to you? What was his reasoning? What did he say?
Davis: He would not answer that they had been removed and did not commit to do that, either. Along with the already identified hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of erroneously registered voters in the state of California that now are going to get a live ballot sent to their address.
Del Guidice: Wow. Well, as we’ve been talking about due to coronavirus, mail-in voting has really increased.
The Pew Research Center had a recent report come out that noted in the 2016 general election, 24.9% of votes were absentee or mail-in, and in the 2018 general election, 27.4% of votes were absentee or your mail-in. Then in the 2020 primaries, 50.3% of votes were absentee or mail-in.
So what is your perspective, Congressman Davis, on this huge increase we’ve seen? As you highlighted that one state, I think you mentioned that they had said it takes about five years to get this process going well. So what’s your perspective on just the huge increase we’ve seen in such a short amount of time?
Davis: I think that was going to happen regardless of coronavirus. Maybe not as exponentially in some states, but it’s a convenience factor.
We’re all busy. Pre-pandemic, there were folks and families fighting for whatever minutes they could take to go to their families’ sporting events to watch their kids play.
It’s going to increase, just like early voting has progressively gotten more and more prevalent throughout our country, especially in states like Illinois. I early vote. The president is going to early vote. It’s convenient.
These are the types of things that we have to allow states, Rachel, and localities that our Constitution tells us should run our elections. We got to allow them the flexibility to implement standards and procedures and policies that benefit them and their constituents.
Del Guidice: Congressman Davis, can you walk us through some of the documented security vulnerabilities and problems that you’re familiar with that can happen with mail-in or absentee ballots?
Davis: Well, when you look at states like California, and this is also what the Democrats in Washington in the House have tried to implement nationwide—actually, as recently as the last stimulus bill that passed with zero Republican support and 18 Democrats voting against it with us just a few weeks ago. It had 71 pages of election law changes that would have been permanent. It’s not a pandemic response.
In those changes, ballot harvesting would have been legal nationwide in this election. When they passed that bill, the election in Illinois had already started with early voting and mail-in voting. That’s their priority.
Now, what has happened in states like California, you have a live ballot sent to every registered voter. Then there’s a list of every registered voter who gets that ballot. You have ballot brokers, political operatives that go to the doors where they know these ballots have been mailed, and they ask the voter, “Can we see that? Can we have that ballot? Have you cast it? Don’t worry. We’ll take it to the polling place for you.”
Well, that process was already disrupted and part of a fraudulent scheme in North Carolina, so much so that we didn’t seat the Republican member of Congress because of the fraud.
But here’s the irony, Rachel. In the last election, if that Republican operative would have done the exact same thing in California, [it] would have been legal.
Del Guidice: What do you foresee happening, Congressman Davis, if there is widespread voter fraud in this presidential election? What are some scenarios that you can see as potential things that might happen if there is widespread fraud?
Davis: Well, I certainly hope our law enforcement officials will prosecute. That’s what has to happen to stop voter fraud.
Our vote is worth a lot more than money that might be paid to somebody to hand their ballot over to have somebody else to take it to the polling place with them.
We need to make sure that law enforcement holds people who commit fraud accountable, just like the Republican operative in North Carolina’s 9th District.
If we don’t have that, we’re going to continue to see a push from national Democrats to really nationalize some of the processes that I believe have been ripe with fraud. If we allow that to happen, then we’re going to see it exponentially grow.
But here’s the good part. I think there are a lot of states that are doing what they can to shine the light on possible fraud. We’re doing that right here in my district, where we had a county clerk in Champaign County, Illinois, break the election law rules in the primary by counting ballots before the polls even closed.
Those are things that when you shine the light on the problem, it makes them a little leery about committing those errors or violations in the future.
I certainly hope the emphasis on possible fraud and mail-in voting has made everybody take a look and know that the world is watching, and thus maybe reduce the opportunity to do so.
Del Guidice: Well, on that note, and just practically speaking, what would you encourage voters to do who maybe will be going to the polls, if they see something that looks suspicious? Or even poll workers—I know a lot of people, friends of mine, even family, who will be poll workers. …
I know the poll workers are trained, but if people who are voting see something suspicious, is there anything that you would encourage them to do?
Davis: Yeah. I would encourage them to contact their local election official. If that local election official doesn’t take it seriously, reach out to the campaign of somebody you know who’s running for office in that jurisdiction, so that possible error or that possible fraud that may have been witnessed can be reported to your state election authorities, too.
I’m really glad that we had an announcement just a few days ago from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who happens to be one of the most honorable people I’ve ever met and had the chance to serve with.
He talked about how voter registration systems have been hacked into and information had been gotten through ill-gotten means by countries like Iran and Russia.
We need to do more to make sure that we protect non-voting machine types of technology, too. We don’t require at the federal level certain standards to be met by states to house e-poll books or voter registration databases. That’s something we ought to have bipartisan support on.
When you look at the voting machines, they have to meet a certain set of standards before they’re even allowed to be placed in a polling place. But voter registration systems that are online and meant to be used to make sure somebody doesn’t try and vote twice or more than that, they don’t follow those same guidelines.
We need to look in the future to make sure that they do and avoid having Director Ratcliffe and Director of the FBI [Christopher] Wray have to do a press conference to tell the American people about it.
Del Guidice: When it comes to looking into the future and future congresses with your colleagues in the House, is there any legislation you’d like to highlight or things you would like to do, particularly in years to come, that would address voter fraud?
Davis: We’ve had numerous pieces of legislation that we’ve introduced, and they’ve fallen on deaf ears with the Democratic majority, because their priority is just to nationalize our elections and actually legalize ballot harvesting nationwide, something that we’ve already seen is ripe with fraud.
So it’s protecting our state and local election officials right now from what the Democrats have tried to do this entire Congress, and tried to do just as recently as two weeks ago to really disrupt our current election.
But as we look ahead, we’ve got to have standards in place for our non-voting machine technology like voter registration databases.
We’ve got to make sure that we invest in getting poll workers to the polls that are going to be the next generation of poll workers, because right now, the average poll worker is 65 years and over. They’re most at risk during this pandemic.
So we need to encourage young people to get engaged in the process and be our eyes and ears in the polling places. We can do that by helping them pay down their student debt.
Now, if that happens, having eyes and ears on the ground and well-trained individuals and young people who are excited to be a part of this process in the polling places, you know what? You’re going to cut down on fraud at the polling places and at the counting stations where mail-in ballots are returned, exponentially more than what you could if we continue to have a shortage of poll workers.
Del Guidice: Well, Congressman Davis, thank you so much for joining us on “The Daily Signal Podcast” and discussing this really important topic. We appreciate having you with us.
Davis: Thanks for having me on, Rachel. I really enjoyed it.