American democracy has a problem - a voting problem.
According to a new study of U.S. Census data, America has more registered voters than actual live voters. It's a troubling fact that puts our nation's future in peril.
The data come from Judicial Watch's Election Integrity Project. The group looked at data from 2011 to 2015 produced by the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, along with data from the federal Election Assistance Commission.
As reported by the National Review's Deroy Murdock, who did some numbers-crunching of his own, "some 3.5 million more people are registered to vote in the U.S. than are alive among America's adult citizens. Such staggering inaccuracy is an engraved invitation to voter fraud."
Murdock counted Judicial Watch's state-by-state tally and found that 462 U.S. counties had a registration rate exceeding 100% of all eligible voters. That's 3.552 million people, who Murdock calls "ghost voters." And how many people is that? There are 21 states that don't have that many people.
Nor are these tiny, rural counties or places that don't have the wherewithal to police their voter rolls.
California, for instance, has 11 counties with more registered voters than actual voters. Perhaps not surprisingly — it is deep-Blue State California, after all — 10 of those counties voted heavily for Hillary Clinton.
Los Angeles County, whose more than 10 million people make it the nation's most populous county, had 12% more registered voters than live ones, some 707,475 votes. That's a huge number of possible votes in an election.
But, Murdock notes, "California's San Diego County earns the enchilada grande. Its 138% registration translates into 810,966 ghost voters."
State by state, this is an enormous problem that needs to be dealt with seriously. Having so many bogus voters out there is a temptation to voter fraud. In California, where Hillary Clinton racked up a massive majority over Trump, it would have made little difference.
But in other states, and in smaller elections, voter fraud could easily turn elections. A hundred votes here, a hundred votes there, and things could be very different. As a Wikipedia list of close elections shows, since just 2000 there have been literally dozens of elections at the state, local and federal level decided by 100 votes or fewer.
And, in at least two nationally important elections in recent memory, the outcome was decided by a paper-thin margin:
In 2000, President Bush beat environmental activist and former Vice President Al Gore by just 538 votes.
Sen. Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat, won his seat by beating incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008. Coleman was initially declared the winner the day after the election, with a 726-vote lead over Franken. But after a controversial series of recounts and ballot disqualifications, Franken emerged weeks later with a 225-seat victory.
Franken's win was enormous, since it gave Democrats filibuster-proof control of the Senate. So, yes, small vote totals matter.
We're not saying here that Franken cheated, nor, for that matter, that Bush did. But small numbers can have an enormous impact on our nation's governance. The 3.5 million possible fraudulent ballots that exist are a problem that deserves serious immediate attention. Nothing really hinges on it, of course, except the integrity and honesty of our democratic elections.