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Letter to the editor: Working to eliminate real and perceived election irregularities

Until a few years ago, we never heard serious questions about the integrity of U.S. national elections. There were cases of local corruption -- such as ballot box stuffing in Chicago -- but overall, we enjoyed confidence in our electoral process....

Until a few years ago, we never heard serious questions about the integrity of U.S. national elections. There were cases of local corruption -- such as ballot box stuffing in Chicago -- but overall, we enjoyed confidence in our electoral process. That changed in 2000, when it was evident that the Florida election was intentionally corrupted by Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris.

More than 91,000 mostly Democratic Florida voters were systematically "purged" from the voter rolls prior to the election. This "voter suppression" was overseen by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. The result was that George W. Bush was eventually declared the "winner" of Florida by 543 votes.

The Republican Party -- and its media outlets such as Fox "News" -- never questioned the legality of the 2000 Florida election. The massive suppression of voting rights in Florida did not trouble the GOP, since the disenfranchised voters were Democrats.

But this year Republicans insisted that the election was imperiled -- that democracy itself is threatened -- by (gasp!) the specter of massive voter fraud. What is "voter fraud"? What is the evidence, and how extensive is the problem?

It turns out that voter fraud -- the illegal voting that has Fox so concerned -- is virtually non-existent. For the years 2002 through 2005, including the last presidential election, the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted a total of 38 illegal voting cases, resulting in 11 guilty pleas and 13 convictions. The registration of fictitious voters -- such as Mickey Mouse -- is rarely associated with fraudulent voting, and there is absolutely no evidence that it affects the outcomes of elections.

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The goal for all of us -- Democrat, Republican and independent -- is to restore confidence in our elections, by eliminating both top-down voter suppression and bottom-up voter fraud. This should be a bipartisan goal under the next administration. This is, indeed, change we need.

Charles Gessert

Duluth

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