July 14, 2016 - 8:00 pm
When will people learn? Election fraud doesn’t pay.
Tina Marie Parks of Pahrump, who was working for the conservative group Engage Nevada, marked registration forms with either “Republican” or “non-partisan” when the voters in question had intended to sign up as Democrats.
The voters complained, and Nevada’s Election Integrity Task Force investigated. Parks has now been charged with 11 felonies, including four counts of perjury for signing four voter-registration forms for herself.
“Protecting an elector’s right to vote and enforcing state election laws are some of the most important duties of the secretary of state,” said Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.
Cegavske, a Republican, is absolutely right: Protecting the right to vote is among the most important duties of her office.
Cegavske inherited the Election Integrity Task Force from previous Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat. Under his tenure, it was involved with identifying and prosecuting the two highest-profile cases of in-person voter fraud in Nevada.
In 2012, Republican Roxanne Rubin was arrested after she tried to vote twice during early voting, ostensibly to demonstrate that it was too easy to commit fraud. A records search showed she’d already voted, and poll workers refused to allow her to cast a second ballot. In 2013, she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, paid a fine and was assigned to community service and an impulse control class.
Miller noted that the system worked perfectly: “If Ms. Rubin was trying to demonstrate how easy it is to commit voter fraud, she clearly failed and proved just the opposite,” he said.
In 2014, Hortencia Segura-Munoz — an immigrant living in the United States illegally — was charged with felonies for registering to vote under a false name. Segura-Munoz, who registered as a Republican, cast ballots in the 2008 and 2012 elections. Miller said at the time that Segura presented false identification to register to vote in Washoe County in 2008.
Segura-Munoz pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor and was fined and sentenced to 103 days in jail.
Sadly, there was no Election Integrity Task Force in 2004, when then-Secretary of State Dean Heller launched an investigation of Voter Outreach of Nevada — a company connected to a GOP political consulting firm in Arizona — for allegedly discarding voter-registration forms if the would-be voter signed up as a Democrat.
A former employee of the group told 8NewsNow at the time that he’d seen a supervisor destroy voter-registration forms collected from Democrats.
Heller, a Republican, said at the time that such actions “would be an incredible injustice to people who believe they have registered, only to find out later that their form was tossed away.”
And, of course, there was the infamous case of the liberal group ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and an affiliated group, which ran a bonus program during the 2008 election that rewarded employees for signing up new voters (without regard to political party). Some employees filed fictitious voter registration forms, sparking a raid on the group’s offices by Miller’s agents and a prosecution by then-Secretary of State Catherine Cortez Masto, also a Democrat.
Two people later accepted plea deals, and ACORN itself was fined $5,000. The group’s national parent organization filed for bankruptcy and no longer exists.
The bottom line: Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, whether there’s a Republican secretary of state or a Democratic one, Nevada is a really bad place to attempt any kind of voter fraud.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and co-host of “PoliticsNOW,” airing at 5:30 p.m. Sundays on 8NewsNow. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or SSebelius@reviewjournal.com.