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President Obama said the long hours that some voters spent waiting to cast ballots in November require changes to the system, but a former Justice Department elections expert told WND the facts show there really isn't a problem.
J. Christian Adams worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division and has been a vocal critic of what he sees as imbalanced enforcement of voting rights laws by the Obama administration. Adams is now an editor at Pajamas Media and author of "Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama White House."
Adams said the horror stories mentioned by Obama were rare and misleading.
"MIT did a study and found that the average wait for Americans was 13 minutes on Election Day. So the stories that you're hearing about – six, seven, eight-hour waits – are usually coming from places where people actually decided to vote early," Adams said. "Early voting is a worse experience than voting on Election Day because there are fewer places to vote. The lady that the president talked about, Desiline Victor, went to early voting on the very first day of early voting, which is the absolute worst choice you could ever make. That's exactly why she had a long line, including the fact that they had a bunch of ballot questions in Miami-Dade County (Florida). So the president chose a real outlier example when he did the State of the Union."
Adams said there are ways to tweak the system for the better, including encouraging people to vote on Election Day, limiting the number of ballot initiatives to help speed up the lines and moving to a digital check-in process that would also shorten the wait.
"There are ways to do this without the federal government getting involved. There are local solutions to what is a local problem," Adams said. "The federal government, we all know, never has the solution to most problems, so this isn't any different."
According to Adams, the push for national reforms is wrongheaded in a number of ways. In addition to his belief that major reforms aren't necessary, he said changes should not be coming from Washington.
"This is, in fact, a solution in search of a problem because the federal government just doesn't have an answer. They are not in the position to fix it like local officials who are closer to the voters who know the problems," Adams said. "For example, Atlanta was a mess. Places around Baltimore were a mess. These are local solutions. Sadly, in many cases in Democrat areas. It's kind of ironic to hear the president complain about it when the people who are causing the problem by and large were Democrats."
Another factor that may be at work in the Obama agenda, however, may be efforts to help boost Democratic turnout. Adams said there's a long history of policy changes designed to get certain demographics to the ballot box.
"This administration knows that the process rules of elections have partisan outcomes. If you can tinker with the rules of the game, you can help your side. This president recognizes that, to his credit. He knows that once he gets involved in election reforms, you can bet that those reforms are probably going to help Democrats. It comes with the territory," said Adams, who outlined several ways Democrats have boosted their numbers in the past.
"You have Section 7 of 'Motor Voter,' welfare agency voter registration in 1993, where people in heroin treatment facilities and food stamp offices are required to be offered the opportunity to register to vote. If you look at the list in the law, it skews overwhelmingly Democrat," Adams said.
In the end, Adams is not overly worried about this effort to change the voting process and said it will probably never make it to the implementation stage.
"I think it's probably going to get stalled along the side of the road," Adams said. "Frankly, the agenda of the commission is primarily to make a best practices recommendation, so let's hope they stick to that agenda and don't meddle in a state and local affair."