The following Op-Ed was submitted by Joe Gish. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
My fellow Idahoans, given the election fraud I had been reading about in other states, I decided examine Idaho’s voter rolls to determine if I could find any election fraud in our state. This Op-Ed is a summary of how I went about my research, what I found, and my thoughts about how to secure Idaho’s election system to prevent fraud in the future.
First, I want to thank Idaho Representative Priscilla Giddings for sponsoring House Bill 694 that compelled the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to make Idaho’s monthly death reports public. Without this data I could never have identified the 1041 dead Idahoans still on the voter rolls. I had never met Rep. Giddings before starting my research, but a mutual acquaintance who knew about my work suggested she contact me. After discussing my research, she offered to sponsor a Bill I had written that would compel IDHW to make Idaho’s death reports public. The passage of H694 is an amazing story unto itself, but for now, I’ll just say that the work Rep. Giddings did to get H694 though the House and Senate committees and floor votes proves her dedication to election integrity and has convinced me she has to be the hardest working Representative in the Idaho House.
My voter roll research started with obtaining the statewide voter registration database from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office. There are approximately 994,000 registered voters in the State of Idaho, and once I received the list it was uploaded to a SQL database where I could run various queries against the voter rolls. The following examples of what I found will give an idea of what can be accomplished with SQL database technology.
– 98 registrations still on the voter rolls after not voting for over 4 years.
– 255 invalid registration dates statewide across 31 counties
– 1524 registered under the age of 18 with birthdays outside the 24 day close for registration period
– 3292 registrations with invalid or incomplete addresses
– 6084 voters registered at an address with more than 10 other registered voters. All these people are registered from just 286 addresses
– 40,053 registered voters that the National Change of Address database shows moved out of their County of Residence. (about 50% accurate)
Also, after obtaining the previous 4 years of monthly IDHW death reports, I was able to exactly match 1041 deceased Idahoans with their voter registrations by comparing names, ages and addresses. There may also be about 100 more matches where everything matches except the address, but this will require further research to ensure the correct voter registration is identified. Also, by comparing the exact date of death from obituaries with voting history I found that 5 dead people voted in November 2020 election; 4 voted by absentee and one voted in person on election day at the polls! (this information will be sent to the affected County Clerks)
I have sent much of the information to County Clerks across the state, and will be sending the rest in the next few days. The County Clerks response to the information has been very positive.
They have corrected the registrations of invalid voter registrations dates and deceased voters within days of their receiving the information. These lists are almost 100% accurate based on the nature of the data. Other lists like invalid or incomplete addresses take time to for the County Clerks to research and correct, but most of them are working on it. I have come to appreciate the difficulty of the County Clerks job as the voter rolls change daily with people dying, moving, changing party, etc. It is an impossible task to maintain a perfectly accurate voter roll because of the ongoing dynamic nature of data.
Although the data above may make it appear that there are major inaccuracies in our state’s voter rolls, I believe our voter rolls are quite accurate. To put the numbers in perspective, over the past 4 years approximately 64,000 Idahoans have died and the clerks fail to remove about 1000 from the voter rolls. I estimate when it is all said and done that my data will enable the removal of around 2000 invalid registrations and correct the accuracy of around 20K other registrations. These are small numbers considering there are almost 1 million registered voters in Idaho. With that said, invalid registrations can be hijacked for fraud and must be minimized.
The only serious and deliberate issue I found was in Ada County where a minimum of 1524 underage voters were registered. The Ada County Clerk admitted that the registrations were part of a program to register high school students and that the program violated State Statute. His cure was to update the registration dates to the voters’ 18th birthdates which I also believe is wrong. In my opinion all these voters must be re-registered so their addresses and residency can be verified and I have sent a challenge letter stating this to the Ada County Clerk.
My limited analyses of Idaho’s voter rolls did not detect the massive fraud that has been reported in other states, but there is much Idaho can do to prevent that type of fraud from coming here. I personally think Idaho has not seen much election fraud because we are not a battleground state and simply have not been targeted… yet. Accurate voter rolls are a major component in ensuring clean elections, and there are simple things Idaho can do to ensure our voter rolls are maintained as accurately as possible. The Idaho Secretary of State’s office has contacted me several times since I began challenging registrations and they informed me that no one has ever done the simple database analysis that I conducted over the last three months. In my opinion the Secretary of State’s office should be running similar queries and using the results to assist the County Clerks. Given the Secretary of State has all the IDHW death reports, they could easily check that the County Clerks have removed all deceased voters from the rolls each month. They have access to voters’ dates of birth and could determine if underage voters are being registered. They could also check for invalid address, registration dates, etc. Once a monthly audit program like this has been started, I believe new ways will be created to determine which registrations are inaccurate.
There are also holes in Idaho State Statute that can be plugged to deter future election fraud. Simple things like requiring voters to include a copy of their state photo ID with their mail-in absentee ballots is one example. I intend to introduce more Bills in the next legislative session to target these holes. You can help by supporting the legislation as it goes through House and Senate committees and floor votes. After going through the process, I believe there is a lot of very good legislation that dies in committee because it never makes it onto the committee’s agenda. Just a few citizens phoning or emailing the members of a committee and the committee’s chairman can make all the difference.
Stay informed and get involved… our republic cannot survive without free and fair elections.
Tags: Elections, HB 694, Joseph Gish, Priscilla Giddings, Voter Rolls