Democrats inadvertently show how voter fraud happens

AP Photo/Ben Gray, File

Matt Mowers is a guy with a potential problem on his hands. He was previously a senior adviser in the Trump administration and now he’s running for Congress in New Hampshire in the Republican primary. But some oppo research by his prospective opponent’s staff revealed an “irregularity” in Mowers’ voting record. In the 2016 election, he cast an absentee ballot in the New Hampshire primary, presumably for Chris Christie because he was working as Christie’s campaign director in that state. But after Christie dropped out, Mowers relocated to New Jersey, filing a change of address to his parents’ home in the Garden State, and proceeded to cast a ballot in that primary as well. While the federal law covering such an action is kind of murky, he does appear to have violated the law. This puts him in a rather awkward position since the GOP continues to run on a platform of enhancing election integrity to prevent voter fraud. But the detective work that uncovered the double vote may have also revealed something else about our supposedly safe and secure electoral process. (Associated Press)

Legal experts say Mowers’ actions could violate a federal law that prohibits “voting more than once” in “any general, special, or primary election.” That includes casting a ballot in separate jurisdictions “for an election to the same candidacy or office.” It also puts Mowers, who was a senior adviser in Donald Trump’s administration and later held a State Department post, in an awkward spot at a time when much of his party has embraced the former president’s lies about a stolen 2020 election and has pushed for restrictive new election laws.

The issue could have particular resonance in New Hampshire, where Republicans have long advocated for tighter voting rules to prevent short-term residents, namely college students, from participating in its first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Mowers’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the double-voting question, so we don’t yet know what his excuse might be. It’s possible that he simply didn’t understand the campaign laws and thought he could vote in both primaries. I suppose he might even claim to have simply forgotten that he’d previously sent in an absentee ballot. (Neither of which would likely leave his potential supporters brimming with confidence in terms of his mental acumen.) Legal analysts mostly agree that it’s highly unlikely that Mowers will be prosecuted over this, but that’s not really the main point I wanted to address here.

We’re talking about what clearly seems to be either a case of election fraud or a dubious maneuver that’s pretty close to it. Allow me to remind you that this event took place five years ago and nobody discovered it until now. And nobody would likely have ever discovered it if someone hadn’t been poring over those voting records.

The point is, there was clearly no type of automatic security in the system to detect the fact that a person had voted in two different primaries for the same contest. Matt Mowers is only one person, but how many others may have done that without ever being detected? It clearly doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that you have a pretty solid chance of voting multiple times without being caught.

This case isn’t that much different than the 2020 congressional election in New York’s 22nd congressional district, which we’ve discussed here previously. In a race that was decided by 109 votes, three ballots cast by dead people were discovered. (And people were charged with voter fraud.) In just one county, 54 people either voted in person or attempted to vote in person after having already submitted an absentee ballot by mail. And those were just the people who managed to get caught.

Once again, the system wasn’t secure in a way that such deception was registered automatically. Two of the votes being cast by the deceased were only picked up because a poll worker recognized the name and knew that the person was dead. In the case of the attempted double-votes, they were only intercepted because poll monitors were checking the rolls and comparing them to the voters as they checked in. But that wasn’t being done at most polling places.

So the next time you hear someone talking about “Republican efforts at voter suppression” when discussing election integrity laws, just remind them of this story. There may not generally be enough voter fraud going on to sway a major race like the one in NY-22 very often, but that’s not the point. It certainly happens. And the maximum acceptable number of fraudulent votes in any election is zero.