A new way to protect the integrity of our elections

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When it comes to elections, all Americans can surely agree that everyone who’s eligible to vote should be able to, and that all votes should be counted honestly and fairly, undiluted by fraud, errors, or mistakes. 

The Heritage Foundation has created its new Election Integrity Scorecard to help ensure that happens.

President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Elections belong to the people.” At a time when politicians across the country upended state election rules under the guise of COVID-19, the need to protect the people’s elections, and to safeguard the value of every citizen’s vote, couldn’t be clearer. 

Every citizen’s vote is sacred. The right to vote is how we as a free society guarantee that our government remains a republic of the people, by the people, and for the people. Americans need and deserve elections that they can trust, secure in the knowledge that their vote will not be lost, stolen, altered, or negated by fraud or a vote cast by an illegitimate voter. 

Several years ago, Heritage created an Election Fraud Database to shed light on this issue. A sampling of recent, proven instances of election fraud from across the country that now has over 1,300 entries. Every case represents an instance in which a public official, usually a prosecutor, discovered fraud serious enough to act upon. 

It’s important to note that the database, by focusing on successfully prosecuted cases, is only a small sampling of the much larger problem. An unknown number of legitimate instances of election fraud go undetected or fail to be pursued by the authorities.

To address this serious issue, The Heritage Foundation has created and is now releasing the Election Integrity Scorecard. This scorecard analyzes the election laws and regulations of every state and the District of Columbia to measure how well they protect the integrity and security of the election process. To deter such fraud, protect the right to vote, and ensure fair and secure elections, we are making the Election Integrity Scorecard available to voters, state legislators, and election officials across the country 

Creating the Election Integrity Scorecard was not easy. Heritage analysts reviewed the laws of every state relevant to election integrity, checked the accuracy of each law by election-law experts, and provided the opportunity for state election officials to fix any incorrect summary of their laws and regulations.

The Election Integrity Scorecard grades each state based on whether its laws and regulations meet 47 different standards within 12 broad categories, derived from “best practices” recommendations that Heritage has previously published.

These categories cover everything from requiring identification for voting to maintaining the accuracy of voter registration lists to handling absentee ballots securely and effectively. They require states to have strong laws ensuring transparency and the ability of candidates, political parties, and the public to observe every aspect of voting and elections. Such transparency is fundamental to fair and honest elections.

We grade states on whether they have implemented procedures that endanger election integrity such as same-day and automatic voter registration, vote-trafficking of absentee ballots, or allowing private funding of election officials and offices, which raises serious conflicts of interest. 

We are also looking at whether states provide voters and their state legislators standing to sue executive branch and election officials who refuse to comply with the law or who seek to change the rules governing elections by settling collusive lawsuits without the specific approval of the state legislatures that established those rules. We even provide model statutes on this and other recommended best practices.

Our Election Integrity Scorecard will give states – and particularly state legislators – a better idea of where their state laws and regulations meet the “best practices” standards and where they need improvement. It provides them with the tool they need to fight back against liberal groups and politicians that seek to undermine election integrity with unwise and dangerous changes in election laws. 

Of course, even the best laws are not worth much if responsible officials do not enforce them rigorously. But our scorecard will give citizens of each state the ability to make sure that their elected and appointed public official do just that.

Every citizen needs to be involved. Our work on election integrity is dedicated to ensuring that the future of our republic remains in the hands of American voters and the choices they make when they enter the voting booth. 

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