116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
As he lay dying in a Washington hospital in 1998, Mo Udall, once a Democratic presidential candidate and a 30-year congressman from Arizona, was visited by a former House colleague, Father Robert Drinan.
Before even a hello, Udall said, 'Bob, when I die, I want to be buried in Chicago.” Udall had never lived there. When an incredulous Drinan asked why, Udall replied, 'I want stay active in politics.”
Chicago, years earlier, had been known for its political corruption. Posthumous voting was common. Today, that old-time cheating does not exist anywhere in our country and has not for decades.
In the 2016 presidential election, there were only a couple confirmed voting violations. Iowa had a total of one out of 1.7 million votes cast, of which a million were early and mail-in, ostensibly the most easily corrupted. That single 'massive fraud” was a vote for Donald Trump.
In Illinois, a woman cast her husband's absentee ballot. He had died just days before. They both voted for Donald Trump, once legally and once illegally.
Broader studies have not found evidence of massive or coordinated voting fraud. The Washington Post reviewed elections from 2000 to 2014. They found 31 illegal votes out of more than a billion cast.
The Brennan Center, a non-partisan public policy center, checked the 2016 election and concluded that there was 'a greater chance to be struck by lightning” than find a fraudulent vote.
Since the 2020 election, Donald Trump and his allies have endlessly repeated cries of 'massive voter fraud.” They offer no evidence, because they have none. Yet, most of those who voted for Trump still believe it. They exist in an alternative reality.
Like kids who believe in the tooth fairy, nothing intrudes into what they want to believe. A good example exists here. Iowa legislators, who do or should know better, pursued election law changes to solve a problem that doesn't exist. They are not alone, but part of a coordinated national campaign.
There are currently look-alike efforts in at least 33 states to limit voting in the guise of needed change. In Iowa, Republican senators would cut early voting from 29 to20 days, close polls an hour earlier, and in a bizarre effort to ensure honesty, establish criminal penalties for 'rogue” county auditors, most of whom are, of course, Republicans. The hypocrisy is appalling.
These proposals have one clear purpose: make it harder for those who might vote Democratic to do so. An inalienable right is eviscerated for petty partisan purposes.
Their justification has nothing to do with 'facts,” but with 'beliefs” which are not self-evident nor beyond fact-checking. A sponsor of the legislation said, '77 percent of Republicans believe there was fraud.” Most of the Republican Senate caucus 'believe the election was stolen.”
That is frightening. Government run on fantasy or hearsay is not a democratic dream, but a nightmare. It means legislating not on evidence and available information, but on political babble.
Voting in our country is honest, accurate, and a blessing not to be messed with for cheap partisan purposes.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey's press secretary, and authored a memoir 'From Nowhere to Somewhere.”