As we method the following election cycle, many People wonder if or not their votes will rely.
However given the extremely excessive stakes in any election, how can People know that their votes truly matter and that their elections are free and truthful?
Chad Ennis, director of the Forensic Audit Division with the Texas Secretary of State’s workplace and former senior fellow for the Election Safety Undertaking on the Texas Public Coverage Basis, was instrumental in getting his state to take steps towards securing the election course of.
“I actually really feel like Texas has been a frontrunner in all types of voting,” he says. “We have been one of many first states to have early voting, however we’ve at all times been very eager on maintaining the safety in place.”
Ennis joins the present to debate the steps Texas took to safe its elections and supply some steerage on what different states ought to do to safe theirs.
Hearken to the podcast under or learn the evenly edited transcript:
Doug Blair: My visitor at the moment is Chad Ennis, director of the Forensic Audit Division with the Texas Secretary of State’s workplace and former senior fellow for the Election Safety Undertaking on the Texas Public Coverage Basis. Chad, welcome to the present.
Chad Ennis: Yeah, nice to be right here.
Blair: Wonderful. Nicely, we’re very glad to have you ever right here to speak about a difficulty that’s on most People’ minds proper now, which is election integrity.
So Texas ranks fairly persistently excessive on Heritage’s Election Integrity Scorecard for having these actually efficient and protected methods to vote. It signifies that one vote means one vote.
How did a few of these issues get into place? And what do you see is crucial to sustaining that standing of getting robust election integrity measures?
Ennis: Our Legislature has been actually proactive over time. I actually really feel like Texas has been a frontrunner in all types of voting. We have been one of many first states to have early voting, however we’ve at all times been very eager on maintaining the safety in place.
And whether or not it’s picture ID once you vote—right here within the final legislative session, we moved to some sort, a weaker type, however at the very least a type of ID for mail-in ballots, as a result of that’s the place issues get furry.
So we’ve tried to be a frontrunner in that and I believe Texas has executed a reasonably good job.
Blair: A few of these insurance policies, such as you talked about, mail-in voting, have come beneath scrutiny lately. So is it that these insurance policies themselves are problematic or is it they’re not carried out appropriately?
Ennis: Mail-in poll’s an attention-grabbing factor. At the present time, I believe it’s essential as a result of we now have so many individuals which are homebound and simply can’t get to the polls.
So it’s one thing we have to do, however you need to make it as much like the in-person voting expertise as you possibly can. And that’s the place Texas has tried to steer in requiring your driver’s license quantity, the final 4 of your Social Safety quantity in your utility to at the very least present some degree of that in-person voting expertise to the oldsters.
So I don’t suppose mail-in voting is inherently unhealthy. It simply must be executed nicely.
Blair: Positive. Now, the opposite factor that we simply mentioned is voter ID, which is simply as contentious as mail-in voting is. So Texas is a state that has fairly a couple of disparate communities. It has a big Latino inhabitants as nicely. And the left will declare usually that all these insurance policies are discriminatory. Have you ever present in Texas that has affected the power of a few of these teams to entry ballots?
Ennis: We have now not seen any of that. Turnout continues to rise amongst all demographics. It’s only a fable.
Frankly, everybody has an ID. And if not, in case you want one, we are able to get you one. If there’s a purpose you possibly can’t get one, we’ve received a type for that.
We need to know who you might be. I believe the general public desires to know that the individual on the voter roll is the one who’s voting. And the one approach we are able to do that’s with an ID.
Blair: Has Texas had any widespread voter fraud? And if it has, how did it cope with it?
Ennis: Nicely, I really like that time period, “widespread.” That’s the one the left at all times makes use of to say, “Nicely, there’s no widespread voter fraud.” And I don’t know what which means as a result of … Texas is an enormous state. We’ve received voter fraud in East Texas. We’ve received voter fraud in West Texas, South Texas. We’ve received instances in all places.
And in case you take a look at [The Heritage Foundation’s] Hans von Spakovsky’s tracker the place he tracks all of the instances all through the nation, you see they’re in every single place.
So widespread, I don’t actually know what which means, however we’ve received fraud.
We simply had a case prosecuted in Victoria, Texas, right here a month or so in the past. That was in a race determined by, I consider, lower than 10 votes. And she or he was charged with 12 counts of voter fraud. Yeah. I imply, this stuff matter. So we now have fraud. We’re attempting to root it out.
I believe one other attention-grabbing factor you see is the Texas Legislature—nicely, the Texas Lawyer Common’s Workplace has had an integrity unit for years and years. And the staffing has fluctuated over time. You’ll get a prosecutor, you’ll get two. Then one will depart and then you definately’ll get one other one.
And what you’ll see, you possibly can observe prosecutions virtually on to the variety of prosecutors you will have. For those who graph them, the strains are parallel. In order that tells me that it’s extra of a useful resource downside in rooting it out greater than it’s not there.
Blair: So it’s much less of an precise coverage downside than it’s simply having the workers to cope with the problem?
Ennis: Yeah. And I believe individuals take without any consideration, and I believe we have to do a greater job explaining these are arduous instances to show. They’re refined white-collar instances. … And the proof is secret, proper? We have now a secret poll.
So that you’ve actually received to catch anyone with their hand within the cookie jar. You’ve received to essentially dig into the paperwork to root this stuff out.
They’re actually arduous and intensive to prosecute. So it’s not like an assault case the place you’ve received somebody who was punched within the face and say, “That’s who punched me within the face.” It’s, nicely, we see some irregularities. Now we received to dig in and discover it. So that they’re arduous instances.
Blair: Undoubtedly. As we talked about on the high, you have been engaged on the Election Safety Undertaking throughout your time on the Texas Public Coverage [Foundation]. Are you able to inform me somewhat bit about what that venture entailed?
Ennis: We have been actually there to assist assist the Legislature with analysis and all these type of issues to get payments handed that elevated integrity.
And we did quite a bit within the final session. I believe not solely did SB 1, the large one we’ve all heard about that brought on the Democrats to stroll out, however we additionally handed one other, I believe 23 or so, plus or minus, election payments that session. So we have been very energetic on tweaking the election code.
And actually our job there was, right here’s an issue we see, right here’s a approach you possibly can repair it. And actually get them the info to make good coverage.
Blair: And we’ve seen that these insurance policies have panned out?
Ennis: These insurance policies have panned out. We had a little bit of some rising pains. Frankly, since we needed to take a number of classes to cross the invoice, it took quite a lot of the implementation day without work the desk. And in among the early primaries, we had some numbers in rejected mail-in ballots that we didn’t see, however these numbers have plummeted since.
And it’s getting higher. I believe persons are getting used to it, used to issues. And I believe we’ve actually strengthened integrity. And a part of that invoice was the creation of my job. So there was that, too.
Blair: So one of many issues that, clearly, as we speak about elections, is that there are two units of elections on this nation. There’s the state-level elections on your native legislator, metropolis council, for instance. After which there’s the federal election for a president or a senator.
How ought to conservatives stand on the place of the place election reform takes place, whether or not on the state degree or on the federal degree? Clearly, these payments that the Democrats are pushing on the federal degree to place the capability to regulate elections on the federal degree, how ought to conservatives reply to that?
Ennis: State degree? Simple reply. Simple reply.
Ennis: Simple, simple, simple reply. Look, and that is true in Texas, I speak about this at a extra micro degree. However it’s a power of the system that we’ve received 50, 51 jurisdictions holding totally different elections in numerous methods.
There are numerous various kinds of voting programs and machines used all through the nation, makes it actually arduous to steal an election. Not inconceivable, however very arduous.
Desirous about Texas itself, we’ve received 254 counties all doing it their very own approach. We’ve received steerage from the Legislature, however they implement it utterly totally different. Good luck. Good luck.
Dallas is totally different than Harris County, which is Houston. It’s totally different than Fort Value, is totally different than San Antonio.
It’s arduous. And that’s a characteristic, and we have to hold it that approach.
However I additionally suppose that, simply the conservative inkling in me, anytime you attempt to federalize one thing that’s actually a neighborhood exercise, it’s a nasty thought. The individuals in Washington don’t learn about how tough it’s to vote.
It’s attention-grabbing, I used to be speaking to somebody about elections in Hawaii. And give it some thought, how nightmare that’s. You bought a number of islands. That’s the one factor we don’t have, besides perhaps Galveston. In Texas, we don’t have these islands like that. That’s a unique beast. And states want the pliability to do it proper.
Blair: Positive. Nicely, I need to truly comply with up on one thing you stated on the high, which is, it’s not inconceivable to steal an election, however there are specific issues. There are People proper now who query the integrity of the 2020 election. And no matter whether or not or not that’s the case, it’s considerably alarming that folks really feel the capability exists for that to occur.
How can we, as conservatives, begin to push for coverage that ensures individuals can really feel assured in the results of an election?
Ennis: Yeah. I believe what we have to do is, like Texas is doing, an audit. And look, have a look.
I simply had a speech on Tuesday morning elevating these similar issues that you simply’ve stated. I imply, we’ve received a disaster in confidence in our elections.
There’s a ballot from the, I believe it was within the New York Publish, I’m undecided who did it, but it surely stated 51% consider that U.S. democracy is at risk of extinction. Fifty-one %—that’s a nasty quantity. And it was 49%, Republicans have been 49% on that. Democrats have been 49% and independents have been 54%. So that is bipartisan.
And I believe the most important factor we are able to do is open up our books and present our work. And that’s what we must be doing. And that’s what the audits that I’m operating are all about. And I believe extra states ought to be doing these.
Blair: Proper. Nicely, going into the midterm elections after which 2024 presidential elections, how can we really feel in regards to the well being of our election integrity system? Is it doing nicely and that is simply conjured up and we shouldn’t be feeling this fashion, or are there actual considerations of us having these points?
Ennis: The general public actually has their considerations. And so it’s an issue as a result of the voters—we the individuals. So we have to do a greater job.
However states have been stepping up. States have been doing audits, states have been strengthening their guidelines.
I imply, some states nonetheless don’t have ID, which is loopy. Some states simply mail out ballots to lots of of individuals, or 1000’s, tens of millions of individuals, which is frightening. However the states are doing, I believe, their work. And I believe we have to allow them to do their work. We have to watch and simply hold plugging away at it.
Blair: So, to play satan’s advocate for a second, there are states that want to enhance on this, proper? So that nearly perhaps lends itself to the thought, if that is an election that impacts all the nation, why are we not saying that there ought to be some kind of normal by which we go to?
I suppose, what’s the response to the argument that, yeah, there are states which are doing unhealthy stuff with their elections. Why shouldn’t anyone up on the high deal with that?
Ennis: Nicely, I believe in lots of instances we’ve seen, particularly on the federal degree, that enforcement—states are going to do what they need anyway. And states that consider on this stuff are going to do an excellent job, and states that need to be somewhat looser aren’t.
So far as I’m involved, I can take a look at Texas and what we do and be fairly proud. However I believe the Heritage scorecard will present you that many states don’t have the identical concepts as we do, which that’s federalism, proper? That’s federalism.
Blair: Positive. Nicely, I imply, a type of states that ranks fairly poorly on that scorecard is my dwelling state, Oregon. They usually have all of those election measures, that are ripe for fraud. And after we take a look at how Oregon approaches an election versus how Texas approaches an election, it does look like there’s a constant sample by which blue states are likely to have these insurance policies that purple states don’t.
Is there any approach for states who do have good election integrity measures in place to begin to disperse and disseminate these insurance policies to different states that don’t?
Ennis: Yeah. I imply, I believe we have to tout what we do. We have to not settle for the narratives that what we do is to disenfranchise. We have to push again on that tough as a result of it’s not.
… Look, as I stated earlier, religion in elections is a bipartisan downside. Curiously, in case you take a look at polling, .. it’s not disfaith, however lack of religion in elections. There we go. I received to search out the phrase. The excessive level of that, although, was 2016. 2016 was off the charts on mistrust within the election. That’s one which Republicans gained.
So I believe it has to come back from the bottom up. However we have to persuade of us within the blue states that that is good for them, identical to we do with any coverage problem. And it’s on us to persuade. And it’s on us to point out, listed below are the insurance policies, listed below are why we need to do that coverage, and right here’s the impact of this coverage—with information and information, not emotion and people issues.
Blair: Information don’t care about your emotions.
Ennis: Information don’t care about your emotions.
Blair: As Ben Shapiro is wont to say.
Ennis: Famously stated, sure.
Blair: Nicely, on that word then, are there any insurance policies that we’ve seen have bipartisan assist the place you possibly can say, “Democrats, Republicans, independents all agree on this, let’s simply get this executed”?
Ennis: There’s not quite a bit proper now. It’s turn out to be too polar, I believe. It’s a type of points which have simply turn out to be—either side are entrenched. I hope we are able to break it quickly. And so I’m hopeful, at all times.
And I believe quite a lot of instances what you see is that behind the scenes, the political discuss is so poisonous proper now that you would be able to get suggestions behind the scenes from individuals who you wouldn’t suppose in your staff, “Hey, perhaps I ought to add this to the invoice as a result of it’d be good coverage.” And we’re seeing this in our district.
So I do suppose it’s not as unhealthy, polarized as individuals suppose, however having of us go on report, sadly, has turn out to be very arduous.
Blair: So it’s harder as a result of it’s out within the open or is it extra that simply—
Ennis: I believe elections and election legal guidelines are actually—it’s too polar. It’s turn out to be a litmus check. It’s this invoice has to do with election integrity, due to this fact, all Republicans need to be for it. And due to this fact, all of the Democrats need to be towards it, no matter what it says. And that’s a disgrace.
And I take that again somewhat. We handed some fairly good bipartisan payments in the course of the Texas Legislature’s final session, cleansing issues up within the code, making issues extra streamlined.
Generally we noticed a barrier that—I’m attempting to think about an excellent instance proper now. However there have been a number of payments that did get bipartisan assist. So I don’t need it to be all doom and gloom.
However in case you put that tag of election integrity on it, it instantly turns into a polar problem and a litmus check. And we’ve received to get away from that. And we have to, on the best, want to take a look at among the Democrat concepts and say, “Hey, that’s a good suggestion. We will try this.” And vice versa.
Blair: Proper. I suppose I’m curious since you talked about that in 2016, that was the peak of mistrust within the electoral course of, however that couldn’t have been when it began. The place did we see that start to develop?
Ennis: I’d love to point out you. We’re on the radio, although, so I can’t. A wonderful chart that—
Blair: Wow! Have a look at that chart!
Ennis: Yeah. Have a look at the chart. We’re taking a look at this, it’s nice. However it actually, it went from, you noticed religion within the elections and it flipped in, I consider, 2010. Now, why that was the inflection level, I’m not fairly positive. However this isn’t that previous.
I imply, 2000 election was clearly hotly contested on the election integrity finish. After which truly in 2004, you noticed headlines that—and it will sound acquainted—that Ohio was hacked and stolen. And people got here from the left that yr.
So I believe issues have been teetering and we’ve simply hit the inflection level. I suppose that will be an Al Gore chart, the place we hit the inflection level and roll over. And other people unexpectedly are, and I believe individuals on either side are, attuned to it.
Proper now we’ve received, the Republicans are, “Extra election integrity.” And Democrats are, “All the pieces’s positive.” However we’ll see what occurs after ’22. And perhaps that narrative flips.
Blair: Positive. As we start to wrap-up right here, I’m at all times curious if there’s a approach that the common citizen is ready to make an impression on this. … My intestine intuition is to say it’s much more tough for the common citizen to push for voting integrity measures. However perhaps I’m mistaken.
Ennis: No, you might be.
Ennis: I disagree. The perfect factor you are able to do, of us, is signal as much as be a ballot employee. There’s a important want for ballot staff. And if you wish to consider within the integrity of elections, sit there on Election Day and verify IDs, verify individuals in, hand them their poll. That may be an enormous assist. There’s a relentless want for these.
For those who can’t try this, generally that’s a much bigger time dedication, signal as much as be a ballot watcher. I’d relatively have ballot staff than ballot watchers as a result of if I received somebody sitting within the chair, that’s fairly good. I don’t want a watcher as a lot.
However each of these issues are important. And virtually each state permits residents to be concerned in that course of.
It’s a time dedication. It’s. That’s why we see most of our ballot staff are over 70 and retired. However discuss to your organization. Perhaps they’ll allow you to take a time without work and be a ballot employee. And it’s an important civic responsibility. I believe it’s simply as essential as jury responsibility. And that’s the neatest thing that you may do.
Blair: Undoubtedly. Nicely, I stand fortunately corrected, which is fantastic. All proper. Nicely, thanks a lot. That was Chad Ennis, director of the Forensic Audit Division with the Texas Secretary of State’s workplace and former senior fellow for the Election Safety Undertaking on the Texas Public Coverage Basis.
Chad, very a lot respect your time.
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