LWVIN Letter to the Editor regarding Trump’s Election Commission (Submitted to the Indianapolis Star, Crawfordsville Journal Review, and Lafayette Journal & Courier on 5/12/17) The League of Women Voters of Indiana (LWVIN) believes President Trump’s May 11 executive action announcing an election commission to investigate false claims of widespread voter fraud in American elections is an unwarranted distraction. Claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election are without basis and only serve to erode trust the electoral process. The newly created Election Integrity Commission will do nothing to build trust or protect the integrity of the process from real threats such as foreign hacking.
The League is not only concerned by the Commission itself but also by the appointees who have a history of supporting false fraud claims or suppressive voting measures, including Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. Last fall Secretary Lawson launched an investigation claiming widespread voter registration fraud throughout the state. Her investigation involved the Indiana State Police and resulted in police raids of third-party voter registration offices. The investigation did not, however, result in any evidence of widespread fraud. Rather, a chilling atmosphere was created for other volunteer-led voter registration organizations such as the League of Women Voters.
When our election officials make it more difficult to register, or send the message that community+minded organizations such as the League aren’t to be trusted, civic bonds are damaged. The League reminds everyone that volunteer registrars and Election Day poll workers are our friends and neighbors. Charges of “voter fraud” imply the people we work with, worship alongside, and carpool with to and from soccer practice our trying to destroy our democracy. That’s a patently ridiculous charge.
The real problems with our electoral system are the suppressive laws that prevent eligible voters from access to the ballot. False claims of voter fraud have been used to push through discriminatory laws such as Indiana’s voter I.D. law and Marion County’s limits on early voting opportunities. The LWV has long argued Indiana’s 29-day voter registration deadline, short voting hours, strict voter I.D. law, and limits on County Clerks to oversee elections in ways relevant to their communities harms are the reasons Indiana has some of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation. The President and Secretary Lawson would do America a far greater service if they worked to encourage participation in the electoral process rather than spread fear and distrust.
Patsy Hoyer, LWVIN Co-President Oscar Anderson, LWVIN Co-President Erin Kelley, LWVIN Advocacy Chair