A watchdog group, the Virginia Voters Alliance, is urging public attention to the astounding number of provisional ballots that have been printed and distributed to Virginia counties for the general election next week.
Provisional ballots are used by people whose eligibility to cast a ballot cannot be confirmed at the time they show up at the polls. Most of you readers out there have probably never had recourse to a provisional ballot, because you’ve always been legal, duly registered voters.
But the use of provisional ballots has been a regular feature of elections for a long time now. How carefully it is administered depends on location.
Virginia is apparently preparing for Provisional Voting Armageddon. Your patience with these alarming words will be rewarded; read on.
Virginia has printed 1 million provisional ballots, an unprecedented number that could allow a large number of previously disqualified felons to cast ballots for president in the potentially crucial swing state. …
Reagan George, the president of the Virginia Voters Alliance…said the provisional ballot printing doesn’t make sense even for contingencies. And it doesn’t compare to demand in 2012.
“The claim that it is for contingency planning is bogus,” George said in an email. “In 2012, Stafford County used less [sic] than 500 provisional ballots — in 2016 they received 30,000. In 2012, Loudoun County used 700 provisional ballots. In 2016, they received 84,000. In 2012, Fairfax used 2,500 provisional ballots; in 2016, they received over 265,000. This is ridiculous.”
Here is the explanation for the ridiculous number of provisional ballots being distributed for use throughout the state:
But spokeswoman Dena Potter of the Virginia Department of Elections said the state is trying to accommodate a court order.
“As part of its emergency preparedness efforts and in response to the [December] 2015 consent decree related to mitigating long lines at the polls, the Department issued guidance to local registrars on August 29, 2016, that included having enough provisional ballot envelopes to equal at least 20 percent of the number of active voters as of September 1,” Potter said in an email. “As of September 30, there were 5.5 million voters registered in Virginia. As with any contingency planning, we hope that we don’t have to use these but they will be available in case we do.”
Oh, well, if it’s a court order, it must be OK then. Right?
Wrong. First of all, provisional ballots are meaningless to the problem of mitigating long lines at the polls. It’s highly doubtful that any overcrowded-polls situation has ever occurred because of insufficient provisional ballots.
Second, blaming this on the court order is specious. If a court had actually ordered Virginia to have enough provisional ballots to equal 20 percent of active voters, then the court would have been ordering the state to organize for vote fraud.
But the court didn’t order that. The state department of elections chose the 20% figure.
Use your heads, people. Under no circumstances is it possible that Virginia will need that number of provisional ballots to accommodate a legitimate need. Such circumstances are impossible, short of the Apocalypse. If the Apocalypse hits, and a million voting-eligible Virginians are actually wandering the state, trying to vote without any evidence either they or the state can present of their being Virginia voters, get back to me.
But you know perfectly well you won’t be doing that. The department of elections’ plan is demented and unjustified on its face. Even 10% of registered voters would be overstretching it, as a benchmark for provisional ballots.
Virginia has, of course, a swing-state reputation. (Recent national elections have shown a decided trend toward voting Democratic, but within the state, Republicans still have a lot more credibility and better prospects than in New York, California, or Massachusetts.) So it’s a legitimate concern that the state is preparing to accommodate fraudulent voting on a massive scale.
And Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton associate, has been trying his darnedest to arrange for more than 200,000 convicted felons to vote in 2016. His April 2016 executive order move was ultimately struck down in court. But in the months since the court ruling, McAuliffe has been busy signing executive clemencies for thousands of individual felons — a move no less unlawful, but harder to challenge effectively before 8 November.
If the provisional ballots are there, McAuliffe clearly has a vision for using at least 20% of them.
And if that plan seems a bit crass and inelegant to you, there are also the aliens (non-citizens) in Virginia who lurk illegally registered to vote — at least 1,000, according to the Public Interest Legal Foundation. (And, as J. Christian Adams says, there are undoubtedly more, given that the 1,046 documented cases were in eight of Virginia’s 95 counties. We don’t know how many instances there are in the other 87.) This lawless situation comes courtesy of Bill Clinton’s Motor Voter law — which, like too many laws in the last few decades, makes it the law that the law-abiding must submit to lawlessness.