Can anyone explain why Election Day has morphed into a chaotic mass of confusion and uncertainty?  For hundreds of years, the United States has held elections on the first Tuesday in November, with absentee ballots available well in advance to those who could not physically make it to the polls on Election Day.  It was simple, uncomplicated and most of all, efficient. Now, we have results delayed for days – even weeks because enormous numbers of ballots show up at the last minute or even days later.

Part of the problem comes from each state instituting more and more convoluted laws related to voting.  Early voting, same day registration, motor voter registration, ballots received after election day and so on, are just some recent changes that have muddied the waters of our elections.  In the 2020 presidential election, we are continuing to see the fallout from these initiatives.

Some of the more disturbing examples of potential voter fraud include:

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- Over 14,000 deceased individuals voting or registered to vote in Wayne County, Michigan;

- The recent “ballot harvesting” incident in Paterson, NJ only a few months ago which saw several individuals being indicted;

- Earlier in 2020, four individuals in Los Angeles County pleaded no contest to felony charges of falsifying petition signatures and voter registrations for incidents occurring between 2016-2018; 

- A Monterey County California man who not only registered his four dogs and deceased father to vote, but proceeded to have them all vote for six years until he was caught in 2019. 

We all want voting to be simple and accessible to every eligible voter however, that does not mean a free-for-all with no limits and no standards.  One of the easiest first steps to take would be to institute a reliable voter I.D. system to ensure the legitimacy of eligible voters at the polls.  With all of the technology available to us, such as facial recognition, retina identification, and fingerprinting to name a few, along with standard photo I.D., there is no reason not to be able to certify and validate the identity of every voter who casts a ballot in person.

The next step would be to cleanse the voter rolls of all ineligible voters – deceased individuals, people who have moved from a particular address, persons registered in more than one location, etc.  One of the best tools would be through a “crosscheck” program, which scans voter rolls across the country to identify duplicate registrations.  This would prevent mail in ballots from being sent to locations or unscrupulous individuals unrelated to the intended voter.

Most importantly, the penalties for voter fraud must be increased to seriously deter anyone from trying to manipulate the results of an election.  Voter fraud is arguably one of the most serious crimes one could commit, with 330 million potential victims and incalculable damage to the nation.  It should be treated as such.

Protecting the integrity of our elections is not a partisan issue.  Every citizen, regardless of political affiliation or ideology benefits when there is confidence that elections are won or lost through an honest process that is protected by election law and local boards of elections.  In addition to Voter I.D. Bill A-4325, I am in the process of drafting legislation to update the voter rolls and increase penalties for voter fraud.  These will go a long way toward ensuring fair, honest and timely elections.Americans deserve nothing less than the assurance that our elections are honest and safeguarded from any criminal intervention.

Assemblyman, 

Gerry Scharfenberger