As Election Day draws near, there are sure to be an increasing number of stories about illegal voting schemes.
In politics, the name of the game is to win, win by whatever means are necessary. Major cases of voter fraud are reported, but rather than impose hard, tough penalties on those found guilty of violating rules, offenders get off with a relative slap on the wrist.
Laws are on the books to deal with the illegal actions, but nothing is done, even when they may have involved enough votes to put a candidate into office. Little, if any, effort is made to remove the person from office or call for a new vote. The candidate or campaign aides pay a small fine or suffer some other meaningless penalty. No one goes to prison.
Editorials are written about the need to get tough on campaign spending violations or voting fraud, but those willing to stoop to such actions get bolder and bolder with each election.
In a case currently under investigation in Troy, N.Y., members of the city council are suspected of forging absentee ballots to ensure that their candidates won in a 2009 election. It’s likely that similar fraud has occurred in other states and may have an impact on next Tuesday’s general election. How many candidates have either won or lost an election because of fraudulent voting is unknown but, chances are, there is an increase in that number year after year.
And yet, in those cases where fraud is proven, the penalty is so minor it doesn’t discourage others from playing the game. Even if you get caught, the winning candidate who has benefited from the fraud sits in his or her office and can laugh at those who play the game fair and square.
Voter fraud has been an issue in the current campaign for Kansas secretary of state. While Kansas has had few documented cases of voter fraud, it’s important that, when situations are discovered, they are investigated and proper punishments are doled out.
When election efforts and campaigning becoming more tough, mean, intense and sophisticated, it’s important to carefully monitor the accuracy and integrity of the voting process. People who organize efforts to illegally sway elections should suffer consequences that reflect the very serious crime of promoting and casting illegal votes.