Did Maria Cantwell win the senatorial election in November, 2000? Of course she won it officially; Ralph Munro, Washington's secretary of state, certified her election, with a margin of 2,229 votes. But did she win it legitimately? Probably not.
Her official victory is tainted because our voting rolls are tainted. Since 1993, the rolls have come to include more and more non-citizens, people who gained citizenship illegitimately, and felons. These groups generally vote Democratic by at least a 3 to 1 margin. If more than 3,000 of them voted in the senatorial election, then Cantwell's victory is illegitimate.
The largest group who should not be on the rolls are the non-citizens. The Motor Voter Act, passed in 1993 with Cantwell's support, makes it easy for non-citizens to register when they get a driver's license, visit a welfare office, or apply for unemployment. In fact, clerks in these offices are not even allowed to ask applicants whether they are citizens. (This provision, and other parts of the act, appear to be intended to facilitate fraud. At least some of those who voted for the act must have known that it made it easier to cheat in elections. Did Cantwell, who is said to be quite intelligent, realize this?)
How many non-citizens are on the rolls is hard to tell, but there is one instructive example. In 1996, Loretta Sanchez defeated Congressman Robert Dornan in a southern California district. After the election, congressional investigators found 2,538 non-citizens on the rolls there. (There may well have been more non-citizens on the rolls, since those who have the best illegal documents might not be found by the investigators.) Of these 2,538 non-citizens, 624 had voted in the election. Given the very large number of immigrants, legal and illegal, to the country since then, there may be as many as 1000 non-citizens voting for each congressional district, but I will be conservative and estimate that there are about 650 per district.
Many on the rolls, though citizens, should not be, since they received their citizenship illegitimately. In 1996, the Clinton administration pressured the Immigration and Naturalization Service to drop the standards required by law so that a large number of people, most of them potential Democratic voters, could be naturalized before the election. After protesting, the INS did drop the standards, and became, for a time, a Democratic voter mill. Even criminals were allowed to become citizens. In 1996 alone, more than 75,000 people with arrest records received citizenship. One even received his citizenship papers while in jail. Other reasons for disqualification were overlooked as well. In this last election, in the little Haiti section of Miami, Democratic poll workers were caught going into the polling booths to help Haitians who could not read the ballots. Proficiency in English is still an official requirement for naturalization. As a result of this corruption of the INS, perhaps 500,000 people received citizenship who should not have. If just one quarter of them voted in this last election, then there would be about 250 such voters, on the average, for each congressional district.
Finally, there are the felons on the rolls. The Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post, two Democratic newspapers, using different methods, each found more than 5,000 felons who had voted in the 2000 election in Florida. Three fourths of them were registered as Democrats. These newspaper counts should be considered a minimums, since the checks the newspapers used would miss some felons. (County boards there are supposed to purge felons, but boards in some Florida counties, mostly controlled by Democrats, refused to follow the law. Incidentally, if Gore had gained a popular margin of a few hundred votes in Florida, he would have owed it to these murderers, rapists, burglars, drug dealers, child molesters, and other felons, kept on the rolls by Democratic election officials.) % Crime is lower in Washington than in Florida, so, if we extrapolate, we might have an average of about 100 felons voting in each congressional district here.
Putting this all together, I would guesstimate that there were, very roughly, about 9,000 illegitimate voters in the last senatorial election, since Washington has 9 congressional districts. If Cantwell won these illegitimate votes by a 3 to 1 margin, as we would expect, then she gained a net of more than 6,750 illegitimate votes, far larger than her official 2,229 vote margin. Even if my guesstimate is too high by a factor of 3, Cantwell's margin would still have come from illegitimate votes. This is why I conclude that she probably did not win a legitimate victory.
In 1993, Cantwell showed foresight, whatever one may think of her commitment to clean elections, in supporting the Motor Voter Act. She is now showing similar foresight in putting incumbent protection, which she calls "campaign finance reform", at the top of her legislative priority list. Nearly all proposals, including hers, for "campaign finance reform" make it harder for challengers to unseat incumbents. She may be correct in her political judgment. Certainly she did not wear well in the 1st congressional district, since she lost it after a single term. Perhaps, six years from now, she will again be unable to win re-election unless she rigs the rules, as she did in 1993.
Let me suggest an alternative legislative goal to Senator Cantwell. Instead of pushing for incumbent protection, she should take the lead in cleaning up our voting rolls. It is time to revise or repeal the Motor Voter Act, so that our rolls include only legitimate voters. Any other course will suggest that Senator Cantwell thinks she can not win in a clean election.