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Each of our board members read The Sun's editorial, "Double voting? Not necessarily" (Sept. 2), and came away with mixed thoughts. We nonetheless thank you for encouraging Maryland to pursue legal action against those who voted twice in Maryland and Virginia. Our goal is to promote free and fair elections so we naturally appreciated your support. We were somewhat perplexed, however, with the remainder of your verbiage and some of your assumptions. Some of your statements echoed some of the same things we heard the past decade espoused by Annapolis lawmakers and select interest groups when a bill for photo identification was introduced. Ironically, near-identical verbiage was used repeatedly by officials in just about every state where photo ID legislation was introduced, namely that "it discourages voting, particularly by the young, elderly and minority voters." It wasn't until a few federal judges forced those objecting to legislation considered by others states to justify their objection with facts and figures in as much as photo IDs are commonly required today by federal and state laws for a multitude of reasons.

Our volunteers have been examining voter registration records for roughly three years. The dual registrations cited in your editorial were not the first suspicious finding we reported to Maryland Board of Elections. While double-voting clearly undermines voter integrity, other file maintenance neglect also serves to disenfranchise honest voters. We discovered names of hundreds of dead people on active voting lists in Baltimore, Baltimore City, Prince George's and Montgomery counties as well as people registered at vacant lots. This repository of personal information could easily be tapped for nefarious purposes. It's easy to steal someone's identity to cast an illicit vote.

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Voting records sold by election boards contain an abundance of personal information on current and former registered voters making it convenient for nefarious purposes. It might be used fraudulently for a person who died, moved out of state, resides mentally challenged in a nursing home or lives seasonally in Florida. As for our findings to date: More than 2,500 registrations belonged to dead people whose names remained on "active voter" rosters despite death in some cases more than a decade earlier as we confirmed with the state board that somehow votes had been cast after death certificates had been issued for three individuals. These zombie cases were referred to the State Prosecutor's Office and Attorney General Douglas Gansler's office. And we have only evaluated about 1 percent of all state records! But guess what? My counterparts in 38 other states have discovered similar examples of file maintenance neglect suggesting a national problem exists with extant voting laws.

About 30 states have enacted photo ID laws with no reports of disenfranchisement. Key Annapolis lawmakers have resisted such legislation for nearly a decade. Oddly, they seemingly have overlooked that photo IDs have become commonplace for a variety of purposes today so the excuses given to resist new laws are becoming hollow. Claims that they are a "poll tax" or lower voter turnout among the poor, minorities and the elderly are being rejected by federal officials (the exception being Attorney General Eric Holder). Ironically, the NAACP held rallies against requiring ID at the polls yet they actually required photo ID to attend one of their anti-photo ID rallies.

Organizations like True the Vote, Election Integrity Maryland and Judicial Watch are collectively making headway cleaning up voter registration records and compelling enforcement of extant laws. Voter fraud can no longer be brushed off with claims that it is nonexistent or that administrative foul-ups can be attributed to "clerical errors." We know that identities have been stolen or borrowed for casting fraudulent votes in Maryland elections. Dead people have voted, people have cast votes in more than one state and non-citizens have even reported for jury duty. Illicit voting is a prominent threat. As stated earlier, casting illicit votes is not that difficult so this should make voters and taxpayers wonder why a handful of lawmakers strongly oppose voter ID laws. Dual registrations in states collectively approximate 2.25 million according to Pew Research Center. Procedurally, this suggests there is something inherently wrong.

People routinely use photo identification cards for making credit card purchases, boarding airplanes, cashing checks, filling prescriptions, transacting real estate deals, filing for Social Security, food stamps or welfare. If the foregoing reasons are important to proving one's identify, then why shouldn't voter sanctity likewise be important? In point of fact, it is difficult to comprehend how anyone living in the 21st century could miraculously escape all or one of the governmental regulations that now dictate a photo ID for some purpose. There must be all of ten individuals in Maryland who somehow escaped a need for a photo ID. If a photo ID is considered a threat to seniors and minorities, then maybe its time to repeal other mandates that compel the same people to get a photo-ID such as food stamps, prescriptions, government building access, etc.

Judicial Watch has a stellar record of challenging states to meet binding requirements of existing laws and regulations. In March, they announced a new group of states under it's microscope, namely Iowa, Colorado and the District of Columbia calling on them to "follow Ohio's lead and comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) or face a Judicial Watch lawsuit within 90 days." They subsequently sent inquiries a few days later to officials in California, New Mexico, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois notifying them of "apparent problems" and asking these states to provide records of steps taken to assure the accuracy of voter lists.

Obviously, reliability and sanctity of voting records is paramount to our mission. Absent a photo ID requirement, detection of voting impersonators by election poll judges is nearly impossible. Obtaining a Maryland driver's license sets the stage for some individuals to secure voting credentials they are not entitled to have. And no one verifies citizenship. So a non-citizen could cast an illicit vote or be summoned for jury duty.

In sum, thanks for highlighting one aspect of voter fraud in your editorial. But to use an old quote, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Cathy Kelleher, Potomac

The writer is president of Election Integrity Maryland.

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