2017-02-15 / Editorial

Local, state officials answer call for election integrity

President Trump’s continued assertions about widespread voter fraud in the 2016 elections re-emerged this weekend, when senior policy adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday said The White House has provided “enormous evidence” to support claims while still producing no evidence.

“The White House has provided enormous evidence with respect to voter fraud, with respect to people being registered in more than one state,” Miller told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

Trump has argued since November that voter fraud cost him the popular vote, which he lost to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by several million ballots. However, the White House has yet to provide evidence, at least publicly, to support the argument.

The President claimed last week that he would have won New Hampshire if “thousands” of people hadn’t been bussed in to illegally vote.

It’s a serious allegation by our president, yet the facts don’t support his claim.

In Lapeer County, Clerk Theresa Spencer has total confidence in the integrity of the local election system and is offended when Trump or others suggest it’s easy or commonplace to “rig” election results.

Michigan’s Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has repeatedly said that there was no widespread fraud in Michigan’s November election. Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes over Clinton. The margin tightened slightly — by 103 votes, unofficially — in the partial state recount that the President fought in court.

Despite President Trump’s skepticism of those who run elections in Lapeer County, in Michigan and across the country, we commend Johnson’s professionalism to take the high road. On Monday she sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence outlining a five-point plan with suggestions to eliminate voter fraud vulnerabilities in states.

She asked the federal government provide state and Lapeer County officials with the tools they need to ensure election integrity, yet was firm in the authority and resolve of local and state officials.

“I believe that the federal government should not play a substantive role in election administration. Elections are rightly the responsibility of state and local leaders,” said Johnson. “In Michigan, our highly decentralized elections system works well, providing greater direct accountability to the people. However, I am asking you for the tools needed so state and local election officials can do their job.”

Through a number of methods, Johnson said Michigan has been able to remove more than 100,000 names so they are not registered in Michigan and another state. Also, it has created “limited term” driver’s licenses and ID cards that allow it to better identify the citizenship of Michigan residents to ensure noncitizens don’t register to vote, either due to an honest misunderstanding about what is allowed or otherwise.

Johnson suggested to Pence that voting machines or tabulators across the United States should be required to have some form of a verifiable paper trail that allows officials and citizens to review the results instead of having to blindly trust electronic devices. Electronic voting machines or tabulators that offer voters no paper trail do not instill confidence in our election systems and lack the accountability needed.

Spencer said Johnson’s paper trail suggestion has merit, and will consider its application when purchasing new voting machines. As the county’s top election official, Spencer appreciates the fact her feedback and input on election process is considered and has been implemented by the Bureau of Elections in Lansing.

We urge the Trump administration to consider Johnson’s suggestions and put into practice nationwide many of the practices local clerks and the State of Michigan already utilize to ensure election system integrity.

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