Letter responding to Seattle Times’ article by Julie Wise’s piece “Trump’s election commission long on rhetoric, short on integrity”

29 Sep , 2017  

Julie Wise, the King County Elections Director, had an op-ed attacking Dr. John Lott’s testimony 

One particularly egregious presentation was given by Dr. John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center. Relying on data from 1996 to 2004, Lott made the case that citizens should have a thorough background check — like the one used for purchasing a firearm — in order to vote. Leaving aside how ridiculous that analogy is, we are already regularly checking many different data sources to keep our voter rolls up-to-date. . . .

Other points are made in her op-ed piece.  Lott’s letter is here:

Dear Letters Editor:

“Egregious” and “ridiculous” is how Julie Wise, the King County Elections Director, described my testimony to the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  (“Trump’s election commission long on rhetoric, short on integrity,” September 17).  She claims that background checks on voters would accomplish nothing other than creating a “barrier to voting.”  

But just last fall, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman pointed out,Under current state law, as election administrators, we are not able to confirm the citizenship of any registered voter.”  Only a few states make even a partial attempt to confirm citizenship.  And states that restrict voting by felons don’t check to see whether voters committed out-of-state felonies.

Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) boast that the checks on gun purchases are done without in any way abridging rights.”  Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton have made similar claims.  But those checks have hefty fees, so free voter checks are far less onerous by comparison.  Free background checks on citizenship or felony records only create a “barrier to voting” for felons and non-citizens. 

Wise argues that fear of voter fraud is devastating to public confidence.  But if voter fraud isn’t really a problem, why not use simple background checks to restore faith in elections?  Unfortunately, Washington State has already had its share of questionable, close elections.


John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D.
Crime Prevention Research Center


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