… is kind of like the famous dog that didn’t bark in Sherlock Holmes.
Part of what keeps the election-security issue going is the strange behavior of those who want to prevent greater restrictions on voters. If groups like Common Cause and the ACLU are so sure vote fraud isn’t a big deal, why attack Ken Block when he started raising questions?
Once again, Board of Elections member Stephen Erickson acts as a glowing beacon of this strangeness. The latest news comes via Block’s observation that Rhode Island’s various boards of canvassers did indeed find votes that were improperly cast. Here’s Erickson’s response:
Robert Rapoza, the elections board’s new executive director, referred questions on Block’s renewed call for an investigation on Monday to outspoken board member and former District Court Judge Stephen Erickson, who said the decision is not his alone to make. But absent any evidence of fraud, Erickson said, he is not inclined to “turn people who make mistakes into criminals.”
“People move all the time,″ Erickson said. “And updating an address is not necessarily something that is at the top of people’s minds.”
That just sounds like an excuse. The statute criminalizing illegal voting is clear that the vote must be fraudulent, and fraud requires intent, not mere error.
Given the minimal danger to people who erred and the degree to which Block has narrowed the question to just a couple hundred people for the Board of Elections, why not just devote some limited resources to completing the investigation to a degree that would satisfy critics? If government agents are so sure they’ll find nothing worthy of note, following the path all the way to the end will provide a compelling response every time the matter comes up for the foreseeable future.
As made clear when I investigated a related matter in Tiverton, I agree with Erickson that voter registration shouldn’t be a game of gotcha, and the regulations should accommodate, rather than complicate, voters’ ever-shifting lives. But the reluctance of an election official to give the public complete confidence in the system (and get those who’ve made mistakes out from under this cloud) is inherently suspicious, as is his willingness to advertise to potential fraudsters that Rhode Island won’t seek them out.