Politics in America have taken on a strange tone in recent years, amped up by the election of Donald Trump as president. This is particularly notable in discussions of election integrity, both in the notion that Russians interfered in our national election and in different views on the significance of voter fraud.
Today, Rhode Islander Ken Block presented findings of his voter roll review to the president’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.* Among other things, in that presentation, Block highlights that “30.7% of 2016 votes in Rhode Island were cast by voters with no identifying information in voter registration database.” He doesn’t allege that those voters are doing anything wrong, but does insist, “It is vitally important to know how many voters in each state cannot be identified by their data.”
In a press release that is clearly more of a political document than an informative one, Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea mischaracterizes this presentation in a strange way:
Today the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity met in New Hampshire. Part of their presentation included the erroneous claim that 30 percent of Rhode Island voters in 2016 are somehow illegitimate or not verified. …
In short, these voters are your friends, your family, and your neighbors. If you registered to vote in Rhode Island before 2002, these voters likely include you. Allowing unsubstantiated claims to influence our public policy can lead to real consequences and the exclusion of legitimate voters.
Gorbea is speaking out about claims that nobody is making and, in doing so, sidesteps the important question of whether Block’s findings are correct and a legitimate cause of concern. Note, for illustration, that apart from mischaracterizing his claims, she unprofessionally declines to name Ken Block, attributing his statements to the commission, and attempts to make voters take this as an attack on them.
Obviously, folks are behaving with political motivation on both sides of these matters, but more and more, I find myself wishing that everybody involved, especially officials elected to do a job representing all of us, would let some opportunities for political jabs pass by in order to provide the public with a fair and reasonable understanding of what is actually going on.
* Memo to the editors of the Providence Journal: That is actually the proper name of the commission, as formed by the President of the United States. Putting quotation marks around the whole title or (especially) just the “election integrity” part is unnecessary grammatically and inappropriate as journalistic practice, illustrating yet again your newspaper’s bias.