This past year was particularly tumultuous in an unsettling way few of us Americans can remember having experienced in our lifetimes. Collectively and individually, our shell shock resulted from having survived 11+ months of the perfect storm of a pandemic, social unrest, economic turbulence, and the crème de la crème of electoral issues: serious claims of fraud.
Electoral fraud is an illegal act (or set of acts) that entails interference with an election process. This can be a result of increasing the vote share of a preferred candidate, decreasing the vote share of rival nominees, or both. The various types of electoral fraud include: ballot stuffing, votes cast in the names of the deceased, felon vote fraud, voter suppression, voter registration fraud, vote-buying, fraud by election officials, and absentee ballot voter fraud.
The reality is that since its origins, the United States has long been fraught with various forms of both statewide and federal electoral manipulations. Our country’s very first presidential election involved votes bought with liquor. A century later, Boss Tweed paid “repeaters” to cast multiple ballots in New York. In 1997, Miami’s mayoral race entailed hundreds of ballots cast by “vote brokers”. Election fraud has also been commonplace in other free societies, with recent surveys demonstrating that 15% of Latin American, 9% of Mexican, 16% of African, and 60% of Indonesian voters having allowed their votes to be bought in exchange for something of worth.
Like the malfeasant voting practices of other democracies, the United States has been weaponized by enemies of freedom who manipulate election outcomes to weaken our republic. Our current electoral system is not only disorganized, but ill-equipped to handle high turnouts. Although a recent investigation by Brennan Center for Justice researchers found “that rate of illegal voting in our country is rare”, as of December 2019, the Heritage Foundation voter fraud database (going back ~ three decades) showcased an indisputable 1,296 proven cases of fraud and 1,120 criminal convictions. How many people were involved per case? What of the cases that have not yet been discerned? Rare or not, in any strong democracy, election fraud should be a non-issue, with cases at zero.
Further, one can’t help but wonder: In this day and age of advanced technology, why have voter registration and security measure requirements not been as stringent as those required for obtaining a passport or driver’s license? Why haven’t biometrics been widely implemented in our voting process, yet? Biometrics (i.e., “the measurement of life”) is the process by which a human’s unique biology or behavioral characteristics are detected, recorded, and translated by a computer or electronic device. One specific purpose of biometrics is to verify and confirm one’s identity. With the first recorded biometric system established in the 1800’s in Paris, France, the biometric technology field has matured drastically in the past decade. Examples of current biometric methodologies include DNA matching; iris, face, finger geometry and printing, hand geometry, and typing recognition technologies, as well as voice-driven speaker identification processes. Due to its high accuracy, various biometrics types are already currently in use for identity management and verification for international travelers who wish to gain entry into the United States.
The various steps of a widely adopted, efficient, and accurate biometric-driven voting system that would ensure future election fraud does not occur again could involve the following steps and stages: The formation of a national “Biometric Voter Registration Task Force”; creation of a Biometric Voter Registration System (BVRS) that takes into account specific inclusion and exclusion criteria; enrollment of all US citizens into the BVRS; allowance of in-person or virtual voting based on the strict BVRS criteria set forth.
Although the development and implementation of a national BVRS would require robust human resources, it would also create jobs. Mandated by the USG and all 50 states, the BVRS would necessitate that all legal citizens of the United States of America (who expect to vote in elections) apply. The exclusion criteria (to prevent specific people from enrolling) could include: Individuals under the age of 18; Convicted felons; Individuals diagnosed with psychosomatic illnesses (that rendered them legally incompetent to make rational decisions); Illegal aliens (i.e., undocumented people living in the United States illegally); Any person who has renounced his or her citizenship to the United States of America; Individuals declared enemies of the United States; and Individuals convicted of domestic terrorism or other crimes against the United States.
Enrollment in the BVRS by legally qualified citizen voters would occur in person, by appointment—similar to the requirements of most DMV’s or passport agencies. In order to register, each citizen would be required to bring the following with them to their appointment: Proof of residence (mail, bill, deed, etc.); Proof of citizenship (examples of accepted I.D. *similar to proving residence for students attending a certain school district); and Digital photo (for biometric facial recognition, similar to when applying for a passport or driver’s license). The standard biographical data that would be verified would include: Full name, aliases, and alternate names used; Date of Birth; Place of Birth; Father’s full name; Mother’s maiden name; applicant’s physical address (no Post Office Boxes); Phone number; and Email address if available. Biometrics (e.g., fingerprints, facial and voice recognition) would be recorded and attributed during the BVRS registration process. Later, only BVRS authenticated citizens would be able to vote in person. Voters seeking to cast ballots over the phone could, so long as their voice biometrics cleared. Additionally, absentee ballots and military personnel could be accommodated by mobile registration and voting teams. Due to their absence of associated biometrics, mail in ballots would become obsolete.
As citizens of a great republic that has survived 245 years of the best and worst of times, there are three things for which most of us will still fight: liberty, truth, and justice. To protect its associated democracy, a voting system must be accurate, transparent, credible, and secure. By using smart biometric technologies, we could robustly legitimize voter registration and create an improved voting system that is extremely resistant to tampering. In mitigating and minimizing various manipulations to our state and federal processes, election fraud could essentially become a crime of the past. Until then, it behooves each of us to remain vigilant rather than dismissive about recent allegations. After all, we can’t afford any more cracks to our foundation.