Educate Legislators About Election Integrity
by Kurt Hyde, Chairman of the Board of Directors
Last month, we focused on state “election integrity” bills that are (at best) weak or (at worst) undermine election integrity. This month, we’ll focus on a bill in Missouri that illustrates the necessity of educating legislators on genuine election integrity.
S.B. 350 in Missouri would create an Office of Election Crimes and Security and establish reporting requirements that could accomplish some good. But the good in this bill is far outweighed by the bad. S.B. 350 would leave intact provisions in Missouri election law that hinder, if not suppress, the reporting of election offenses. For example, the current law says:
Any person may file a complaint with the secretary of state stating the name of any person who has violated any of the provisions of sections 115.629 to 115.646 and stating the facts of the alleged offense, sworn to, under penalty of perjury.
What if someone who sees something illegal or suspicious doesn’t know the perpetrators’ names? What if the perpetrators aren’t wearing name tags or are wearing name tags with fake names? The person filing the complaint must submit it under oath, so even an innocent mistake could jeopardize citizens under the penalty of perjury. People should be able to report something suspicious without jeopardizing themselves.
To improve this bill, a good suggestion is to remove the requirement that the initial complaint be filed under oath and replace it with, “Any person who notices anything suspicious during an election is encouraged to gather evidence by all reasonable means, including making a video or audio recording to submit to the secretary of state’s office, local law enforcement, or both.”
If the investigators find an election law has been broken, then it would be appropriate for them to start collecting sworn testimony from everyone involved, not just the persons reporting the events.
Also left without modification is the provision in the current Missouri election law that allows the secretary of state to wait up to 30 days before deciding whether to start an investigation:
Within thirty days of receiving a complaint, the secretary of state shall notify the person filing the complaint whether or not the secretary has dismissed the complaint or will commence an investigation.
Is it just coincidence that section 115.557 says that election complaints must be filed no later than 30 days after the official announcement of the election result?
Missouri is not the only state with laws that hinder the collection of evidence and suppress the reporting of election crimes. Many states’ laws forbid audio or video recording at the polls. That’s only one of many reasons why election fraud is so difficult to prove, but it’s one that can be easily remedied if the American people are educated about traditional American elections.
This month, prioritize educating state legislators and fellow citizens about genuine election integrity. Use the materials found on our “Restore Election Integrity” action-project page, at https://gojt.us/yn9a, including the “9 Ways to Restore America’s Elections” slim jim and the “Restoring Election Integrity” TNA reprint. Also consider forming an ad hoc Restore Election Integrity committee, if you haven’t already, to amplify your educational efforts.
Election-integrity legislation should do more than make cosmetic changes to existing laws. Through education, we can ensure that genuine pro-integrity reforms are introduced and passed.