Illegal border crossings have surged in recent months, with record numbers of families and unaccompanied minors entering the United States. Many Border Patrol agents have been forced to put aside their normal duties to take care of the influx of children.
Who is suffering the costs of this surge? And how will it impact future U.S. elections?
We sit down with Ken Cuccinelli, former acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Now, he is a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
Jan Jekielek: Ken Cuccinelli, so great to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Ken Cuccinelli: My pleasure. Good to be with you again.
Mr. Jekielek: Ken, we’re going to talk about something that you’ve been writing about recently, the intersection of border security, something obviously you’re very familiar with, and something else that you’re very familiar with, which is election integrity. Before we jump into that, I want to talk a little bit about the situation at the border as you understand it right now.
Mr. Cuccinelli: It’s actually worse than you’re even reading. The simple explanation for that is—let’s take March. You had 172,000 people apprehended, probably another 30,000 or more of what we call “gotaways.” [They’re] heavily family-oriented, lots of children, many unaccompanied, from places other than Mexico. Mexico’s the easiest return country.
When you hear people say, “This is the most since 2005 or 1995,” that’s misleading. And it’s misleading in this way: the Border Patrol facilities and the Border Patrol itself are designed and geared to catch and return adult Mexican males, because historically, that’s been the overwhelming population crossing the border. Those facilities aren’t built for families and they aren’t built for children.
The Border Patrol, just think of their vehicles. I get you in the middle of the desert, where do I put you? It’s one thing if it’s a bunch of guys you throw in the back of a truck. It’s quite another if you’ve got families and children.
The logistics of March’s 172,000 is probably more like 500,000 of what they were getting in 2005 or 1995. In 1995, you saw some months over 100,000. In particular, the mid-90s were high, but it was overwhelmingly Mexican male crossings, adults. So the logistics involved with handling an adult are minuscule compared to children and families.
I just want your viewers to understand, these are not apples to apples numerical comparisons. This is literally the worst it has ever been from an operational standpoint. As the deputy secretary, I was the chief operating officer for the Department of Homeland Security. This is a perspective I understand very well. We have never seen anything like what we’re seeing right now on the border.
As you and I talk, it’s been three months since Joe Biden was sworn in. In those three months, we’ve already filled up, way beyond capacity, every facility we have in the Department of Homeland Security, ICE, and CBP anywhere near the border. They’re renting hotels at a crazy pace. They’re way beyond their capacity. Over 40 percent of the Border Patrol is doing caretaking and diaper changing, instead of law enforcement, national security, and border security.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s because of these operational differences as you’re describing them. Just to clarify this 500,000 number, you’re saying it’s as if there were 500,000?
Mr. Cuccinelli: Yes, if it was the same population as the last time, we saw numbers reaching over 170,000 in a month. But those were all overwhelmingly adult male Mexicans. That is not what we got in March, a huge proportion of families and unaccompanied children. We have more unaccompanied children in our custody now than at any time in recent history period—maybe ever. You can’t just catch and release children. You actually have to vet where you place them. You have to do all sorts of extra steps with children, for all sorts of obvious reasons.
Mr. Jekielek: For humanitarian reason.
Mr. Cuccinelli: Absolutely, absolutely. That’s if you don’t return them to their home country and just return them to their home countries’ government, which is the simplest solution. Yet, it is not one this administration is undertaking, and because they don’t undertake it, they actually inspire more illegal travelers.
The drug cartels are doing very well and the human smugglers are doing very well on all this. But there’s no end in sight, because this administration hasn’t adopted a single policy, not one, that would slow down the flow.
Mr. Jekielek: How is it that this surge, as it’s being described, actually happens? We’ve talked with Chad Wolf about this maybe three weeks ago but what policy do you see as fueling this, or what is fueling this?
Mr. Cuccinelli: It doesn’t even start with policy. It starts with the perception of the commitment from the president. The world thinking of coming to the United States illegally perceives this president as inviting them in, not merely tolerant of illegal immigration, but desirous of it.
When was the last time you saw illegal immigrants show up at the border with the president’s political t-shirts on like it’s a political rally, and demanding he keeps their promises to them—non-American, non-citizens, entering the country illegally? They start their life off in this country as criminals and by breaking our law. That is where it starts.
It doesn’t even start with policy. It starts with message. You’re going to have whatever policies in place you want, [but] if you have an executive branch unwilling to enforce them or implement them, they don’t matter.
The president is actually the most important single element in what you can expect to see in your illegal immigration flows. Joe Biden has inspired more of a tsunami than any president in history, unfortunately, with no end in sight right now. It starts with the president. He has caused this. There’s a reason it’s called the “Biden Effect,” and that continues on unabated up to this point.
Mr. Jekielek: The Mexican president, to your point, has said the migrants are calling him, the “migrant president.” Something you wrote in this op-ed that I was looking at that inspired the interview. You described the people who are coming in as illegal aliens “invading the country.” That’s very strong language.
Mr. Cuccinelli: Yes. I picked the word for a reason. That is what they’re doing. They’re coming here against our law. They don’t care that they’re violating our law. It’s for their benefit at our cost. It’s not in a war-like fashion, but an invasion is an invasion. Whether you sneak across the border or come charging and meet our forces is secondary.
But the fact that it is an invasion can have legal significance to the border states. They can stop it using their own forces, law enforcement, for instance, if they choose to do so under the Constitution. I didn’t pick that word to be inflammatory. I picked it because it is legally correct.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. The border states, what are they doing that you’re aware of?
Mr. Cuccinelli: You’re seeing some discussion—for instance, in Texas. I’ve seen some in Arizona as well—among legislators about essentially continuing the wall work. Lord knows all the material is right there. In some instances, it may be more expensive to stop building and actually get rid of this stuff than it is to finish the job.
You’re seeing them talk about doing what should be the federal government’s role, but they know how effective it is once the wall’s in place and so they’re thinking about continuing it themselves. That’s the simplest example.
You’re also seeing in Texas that they’re drawing law enforcement manpower from across the state. That means it’s being drawn out of fighting crime and keeping neighborhoods safe, to deal with the growing crisis at their border. They’re already having to send manpower in that direction.
Frankly, it’s my view that as a legal matter, those states have the authority separate from the federal government to send folks back over the Rio Grande.
Mr. Jekielek: President Biden is now in fact calling it a crisis himself, which is a new thing. What do you imagine as being a solution at this point, just very briefly?
Mr. Cuccinelli: Yes. So in briefest terms, the problem with them undertaking the solution, is what the solution is. You can call them whatever you want, but what we did in the Trump administration wasn’t rocket science. It was just hard. It was politically hard. It was hard work, but the steps necessary are straightforward.
Why I believe they’re not doing anything is because anything they do will look like what we did. It isn’t rocket science, [and] there aren’t a ton of options. There’s manpower to apply to it and other things you have to do.
When they talked about—turned out not to be true—having agreements with Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras to guard their own borders, we [already] had those agreements. We did training for them, we did security support, we did information management support, we did all kinds of things to help them be more effective at that.
I was actually speaking positively about the Biden administration earlier this week or last week when they said that they were entering into those arrangements. Unfortunately, like I said, it turned out not to be true, but had it been true and if they end up doing it, it will be just their own version of the same kind of agreements that we put in place, that President Joe Biden tore up in his first hours and days in office.
Reimplementing any of those things would start to show through action, not words, which is what matters the most at the moment—that they are serious about not letting unlimited flows come into the country.
Mr. Jekielek: Very briefly, what would be the most consequential of policies?
Mr. Cuccinelli: The single most consequential thing, as I said, is the president’s own messaging. Sincerely, you can’t message without following through. What you say, you have to do. It’s like a two-year-old. Don’t tell him that you’re going to punish him, if you’re not going to punish him. Don’t tell him you’re going to enforce A, B, or C, if you’re not. So it’s the messaging piece that’s number one most important.
In terms of all the various programs we utilized, the most effective was the “Remain in Mexico” program. Making people wait outside of the United States while their alleged asylum claims were adjudicated was the most effective to stopping the flow.
First of all, it acts as its own form of detention. We don’t have enough facilities [to hold], for instance, families. It keeps them out of the United States; it also has them in our legal process.
We have these very complicated, very thorough processes that they go through. In fact, in my view, there’s way too much of it. We should simplify that, but that will take legislation.
But the Remain in Mexico program allowed families to stay over there, literally over 60,000 people. Because they knew they weren’t getting in, less came. If you hold the line for a while, the message gets through. There’s nothing that does more to deter further illegal immigration than seeing people who left a few weeks ago arrived back in the neighborhood. They’re not doing that right now, and they need to make that happen.
Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. There is this messaging that you’re describing and there is this Remain in Mexico program, which is no more. What other incentives are there?
Mr. Cuccinelli: You and I have been talking about the federal government, but let’s not forget that states giving Medicaid, in-state tuition, and all of these other benefits that are supposed to be for American citizens to illegal aliens, encourages them to come. It tells them that if they can just get by that border and get released by the federal government, the goodies are there for them, so states have a role in this too.
At the federal level, we’re facilitating when it comes to the children. We’re facilitating the human trafficking. That’s why you see children dropped over the wall because they know they’re going to end up with HHS and ultimately, get placed. The idea from families’ perspectives is that they be the placement option, so they’re trying to work both sides of that human trafficking chain and our government is facilitating that.
Mr. Jekielek: Can you clarify, what do you mean by that?
Mr. Cuccinelli: Families stay in touch with one another, obviously. One part of a family may already be here illegally; another part will push their children across the border, unaccompanied, Of course if you did this in America, it’ll be child neglect. Here, it’s immigration to this administration.
They get picked up by the Border Patrol. They get handed over to Health and Human Services [HHS] who gets all children eventually. HHS then seeks to place those children. Thus shows up the other part of the family. The goal for this part of the family is to get those children placed with them and they believe they can make that happen.
With this administration, it does appear that they’re going to be placing children with illegals. Why anybody would expect them to then show up for their hearing date is mystery to me, but that’s how the government ends up being a couple of the links in the human trafficking chain.
Mr. Jekielek: I understand. One of the biggest criticisms of the strong immigration policy, the type that you developed and implemented under the Trump administration is that if people are going to put so much effort to come all the way up from Central America and through Mexico, clearly it’s a humanitarian question. Are we being inhumane? Am I not supporting people that are going to such incredible lengths, braving the worst traffickers? Your thoughts?
Mr. Cuccinelli: There are 80 million people a year born into abject poverty around the world, 80 million. Are we going to take all 80 million? And of course, the answer from people who propose what you put forward in your question would be, “No, not all 80 million.” “OK, how many?” They won’t answer the question. It’s a fairly limitless thing. It’s interesting.
Jumping to legal immigration briefly, when you ask Americans their feelings about legal immigration, you get one set of answers. When you give them actual numbers of people that we think should be allowed to immigrate here every year, the numbers you get are phenomenally lower than what our government has been doing for decades, including under the Trump administration. So there’s a real disconnect there.
And let’s not forget that when you dump hundreds of thousands of people, illegal aliens, or low skilled legal aliens into our economy, you depress the wages and job opportunities of our poor people. The people who talk about helping the rest of the world are willing to sacrifice our poor people to do that.
At the end of 2019, we reached the lowest poverty rate in recorded history in the United States 10.4 percent We didn’t just get there, because of tax cuts. We didn’t just get there because of deregulation. While those had very important roles to play, we wouldn’t have gotten there without it.
The other piece, to lower poverty, to address the lowest end of our economic scale for our people, was being tough on illegal immigration. The reason is, we’d finally made it clear that we were going to stop allowing the dumping of illegal labor to compete in the labor pool with our poorest Americans.
If you look at the data from 2019, you will see that to achieve that lowest poverty rate in recorded history, you saw the wages of poor people in this country rise proportionally more than almost any other year, going back my whole life. I don’t know that you can find any other times when poor people’s wages were rising as much as in that time period.
Part of that is the simple law of supply and demand related to labor at the low skill end of our economy. If we want to take care of our poor people who are already here and are already poor, then we can’t just have an open borders policy. What Joe Biden is doing is giving the shaft to American poor people right now.
Mr. Jekielek: You highlighted the idea, illegal alien and illegal immigration. There’s actually right now an initiative to change the naming of that. Illegal aliens are going to be migrant or undocumented, non-citizen or undocumented individual and other kinds of related changes. What are your thoughts on this?
Mr. Cuccinelli: This administration has demonstrated very quickly and very clearly, they’re not very committed to the truth. This is just one more example of it. The statutes themselves, the laws use the word alien. We didn’t make that up. That’s been the terminology in this country for well before you and I were born.
When people come here illegally, they are here illegally. So to say they’re an illegal alien is simply to track the statute and to describe truth as it is. They are trying to mitigate the criminality of breaking into this country, of invading the United States. And they’re doing that for other purposes, because this isn’t happening in a vacuum.
This policy is not unintentional—it is intentional. It’s occurring at the same time that the House has passed not one, but two amnesty bills, sometimes with Republican support. They’re trying to pass a voting bill in which of millions of these folks crossing the border in the next couple of years are going to be swept under the voter rolls if that became the law, because of the automatic registration provisions in that bill.
You and I look at the border and we’re talking about a crisis, a humanitarian crisis. That’s all correct. They look at the border, the radical Left looks at that border, and they see a voter registration line. They’re very confident, I think incorrectly, but they’re very confident that these are future votes for their radical Left agenda.
Mr. Jekielek: This is really interesting. We’ve jumped into the main topic of the interview here, that’s excellent. But why do you think this is incorrect thinking? Tell me about that.
Mr. Cuccinelli: So look at H.R. 1.[For the People Act of 2019] H.R. 1 is the voting bill. It’s interesting that it’s the very first one. It’s Senate Bill 1 [S.1] also. This has been pushed for a number of years by the most radical Left portion of the Democrat Party. Portions of it address free speech, portions of it address nonprofits, portions of it address redistricting.
The free speech pieces are so bad that even the ACLU says that parts of it are unconstitutional. That’s how bad it is. In the voting provisions they wipe out state election law, which is hard for people listening and hearing you and I talked to understand. They literally end your state’s election law, after 230 years of operating that way in this country.
Since the Constitution was ratified, states have run elections. States have always run elections. And while it will be state manpower that runs elections, under H.R. 1, the federal government will write the rules. They will be the same for everybody across the country.
They do things like wipe out voter identification requirements in the 36 states that have them. They require same day voter registration. That means you can walk up to a polling place and register to vote. But remember, they have illegalized voter ID.
So they have to register you without you identifying and proving who you are. They also, in that same vein, say that the only form of— it isn’t identification—but verification of who you allegedly are, that can be used, is a signature.
So let me play this out for you. Virginia’s polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day, I can go to poll number one at 6 a.m. and say “Hi, I’m Ken Jones. I want to register to vote.” “OK, sign here. Ken Jones,” and I go and vote. I go to the next poll—same day voter registration. “Hi, I’m Ken Smith. I want to register to vote.” “Ken Smith, go on in. Go ahead and vote.” How does anybody at the second poll know that I have registered to vote only an hour before at a different poll? They don’t.
Mr. Jekielek: You changed your name?
Mr. Cuccinelli: Yes. And how do they know that? They don’t. They’re designing a system that is so easy to cheat that one can only conclude that’s the purpose.
So now let’s look at some of the other provisions that relate to illegal immigrants. H.R. 1 would also order every state to put every adult in every single one of their databases onto their voter rolls. And the way they say it is, “Every eligible individual,” they don’t even say citizen.
Now, what the other side would say is, “Yes, but we don’t make it legal for non-citizens to vote.” Which is technically true. But I just told you how they get automatically registered. You don’t even go ask to go register to vote.
If I come get a driver’s license in your state, and your state gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, I’m on the voter rolls. And once I’m on the voter rolls, if I go to vote—they have also written into this bill—I am not penalized for that. Because I couldn’t have intended any criminal intent, presumably, because I was automatically put on the voter rolls, which is a little ridiculous. If I show up to vote, I obviously intended to vote. By eliminating the penalties, they essentially make it legal for illegals to vote.
In addition, if you work at that DMV and I show up at your desk and my name isn’t in your system, you know that this transaction we’re conducting will not only get me my driver’s license, but it will also register me to vote. But I don’t speak English. You have a pretty good statistical basis to think I’m not a U.S. citizen, and so I can’t legally vote. It doesn’t mean I can’t get the driver’s license or whatever else I’m there to do. But you know pretty clearly that I wouldn’t qualify to vote.
So some people might say that person will ask me, “Are you qualified to vote?” and there’ll be some mechanism to keep me off the voter rolls. Well, they plan ahead for that. The radical Leftists put a criminal provision in the bill, a new federal felony for any state or local official who in any way impairs, impedes, or intimidates anyone from registering to vote, or from exercising their voting rights.
That sounds on its face reasonable, except when you consider how politicized their prosecutions have gotten. It looks an awful lot like that as a threat to you as the DMV worker to not ask that question to me. Are you really going to risk a federal felony from an overanxious U.S. attorney who’s very politicized to begin with—just to make sure that one person who doesn’t belong on the voter rolls doesn’t go on the voter rolls? Human nature is such that the answer to that question 99 times out of 100 is, no, you’re not going to do that.
So again, they’ve designed this entire system, as a practical matter, to bring millions of illegal aliens onto the voter rolls, because they presume that those folks will vote their way. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. But that is what’s going on.
That connects the border crisis—which you and I see is a crisis, and the President admitted this past Saturday is a crisis—to their voting bill. And it is their intent that the two be connected. They’ve made it very clear in the provisions of H.R. 1.
If you take them one at a time, it’s really very interesting how much Americans agree on how our elections should be run. If you take Democrat and Republican out of it, and you just asked questions like, “Should people have to provide an ID?” Biden voters overwhelmingly say, “You should have to provide an ID to vote.” Black voters, Hispanic voters, Asian, white, man, woman, Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian, vegetarian—everyone supports voter ID and it isn’t close. It’s swamping. And yet they illegalize it in this bill.
Mr. Jekielek: Frankly, this is very strange to a lot of us from other countries, like myself from Canada, where you need an ID to vote.
Mr. Cuccinelli: You need an ID to vote in almost every country in the world. It is really much more the exception to not need an identification.
Mr. Jekielek: It somehow seems like a bizarre discussion to be having to those of us maybe that aren’t American.
Mr. Cuccinelli: It is bizarre. Why is identification partisan? It isn’t. And the data shows that it isn’t. It’s only partisan for radical elected Democrats. I don’t even think for all Democrats. You’re going to have a Democrat secretary of state from New Hampshire testifying today in the U.S. Senate against H.R. 1, because he says, “Our system in New Hampshire works great. Why are you messing it up?”
This is a guy who gets elected by his state legislature. That’s how they pick their secretary of state. He has been the secretary of state since the late ‘70s, and that’s with both Democrat and Republican legislatures. The reason he has remained the secretary of state is because he does a good job. What a concept. He just does a good job at his job. He realizes that H.R. 1 destroys the good system they have in New Hampshire.
So here’s a Democrat coming in to testify in Washington on that very subject. There are plenty of Democrat elected officials. He’s braver than most. It’s a hard thing to oppose your own team when they’re wrong. But in my view, it’s the true test of somebody’s political mettle. This is not only bad government, it’s also turning out to be bad politics for them.
I said earlier, Americans tend to agree conceptually on what makes a good election. We know we can fix the problems we have. 20 years ago, we had Florida in the 2000 election, Bush versus Gore, and it was a debacle. They were embarrassed at how bad a job they were doing. They weren’t even doing the same bad job in each part of the state. They were doing it differently. What did they do? They set about over the course of a number of years to clean up and fix their election system.
What happened in 2021? So many other states were stumbling over themselves and had all these questions about how they were counting, and when, and so forth. Florida, the third largest state, more votes than any other state but Texas and California, finished counting on election night smoothly with no complaints from either side, because their system had run so smoothly.
So we know we can fix the problems that we saw popping up all over. It isn’t new to 2020. Stacey Abrams complained in 2018. Now she’s complaining they’re fixing it. In 2016, 26 percent of Americans didn’t think we were going to be swearing in the right president. After 2020, 31 percent of Americans didn’t think we were swearing in the right president with Joe Biden. I hadn’t thought to look back there.
But I saw an article by Scott Rasmussen who noted those two pools of people don’t overlap very much. That means over 50 percent of Americans believe our election system wasn’t working right in one of the last two presidential elections. That sounds like something that needs improvement. As it relates to the attacks on the efforts like Georgia’s to improve their systems, I would say it has never been easier to register to vote in this country in the history of the United States of America.
So for people who say that I or others who want clean election systems, and secure and accountable election systems are somehow trying to suppress a vote, there’s simply no evidence of it. I deny it flat out. There’s no evidence to support that proposition. Then you look at H.R. 1, and what it would do to dirty up our elections, you have to ask yourself, what are they thinking?
Normally, when you ask that question, you think people are being foolish or dumb or are not thoughtful. In fact, they’re being very, very thoughtful, and they’re very intentionally dirtying up the elections, so they can win by cheating. It’s their path to maintain power for a long period of time. They view illegal immigrants as part of the cannon fodder in that plan.
Mr. Jekielek: This is obviously a very, very strong assertion to make, right. A whole political party is conspiring—
Mr. Cuccinelli: No, not the whole political party. I know they all voted for it in the House. This is one of those things you have to do to stay a Democrat. But that isn’t where this came from. This didn’t come from moderate Democrats. This comes from the farthest Left, most radical pro-Antifa type of Democrats that are in their party. It’s definitely a new and radical breed of Democrat that has not been getting elected before in this country’s history.
We’ve never seen it before. I don’t think America has woken up to just the kind of people we’ve been electing. Among some of these new Democrats, who truly are really communists with the tyranny and everything else that goes with it. They are more than willing to suppress speech and to use violence. We’ve seen that in the streets. That’s where this comes from.
It isn’t all Democrats. Even if many of them are going along, to get along, there is a difference between going along to get along and people who really desire to use these tactics. So I don’t want to paint too broadly with that very negative brush that I’m painting with.
But there is a substantial swath of the radical Left portion of the Democrat party that is responsible for this, that does own this, that is pushing this. They’re cowing the rest of their party into coming along. Now, not all of them are coming, as I pointed, for instance, to the Secretary of State of New Hampshire.
We’ll see what Democrat senators in the U.S. Senate do. They haven’t had a chance to be heard on this. But it’s a very hard thing to stand up to your own political base. We’ll see who’s got the guts to do it over on the Democrat side in the Senate.
Mr. Jekielek: That’s the question, right? It sounds like you’re expecting H.R.1 will pass, but S.1 is a question mark.
Mr. Cuccinelli: S.1 is just the Senate version of H.R.1. I don’t assume they’ll pass. The Senate, unlike the House, has a supermajority requirement in the filibuster. The filibuster is their rule they’ve had for almost 200 years that requires 60 votes out of 100 to close out debate on a bill, which means that you can kill a bill by continuing the debate.
Another way to say it is, you need 60 votes to pass a new law. This doesn’t apply to budgets and it doesn’t apply to nominees. But it does apply to new laws like H.R. 1. This law is so bad, the proposal is so bad, that it wouldn’t get a single Republican’s vote. Republicans, unlike Democrats, frequently break to vote with Democrats.
And yet, there’s no chance of that happening with this bill. I’ll just say period. It’s not even amendable to make it a compromise bill, because its fundamental purpose is to end state election law and replace it with federal election law. I just don’t see any Republicans supporting that.
Mr. Jekielek: Just as a thought I had while we were talking earlier, you describe an excellent system that Florida has that no one is concerned about, because it seems to work well. Wouldn’t it make sense to apply a system like that at the federal level?
Mr. Cuccinelli: No, and there’s a couple of reasons for it. One is, the states learn from one another. We This is what we call being laboratories of democracy. Technology is going to change, the way we live our lives is going to change. The way Florida does things now is not perfect, it’s just notably better than their sister states. They had problems, but they were sufficiently minor. Nobody questioned the outcome. Nobody was terribly concerned. Florida is still talking about fixing some things.
So they learn from one another. When Florida was trying to fix up its system after 2000, it looked at other states. What are other states doing? That’s where they got their wisdom. They didn’t look to Washington. So that’s one point.
Let me jump back to my role in the Department of Homeland Security. The only role the federal government in securing an election is contending with the foreign threats. A U.S. election is really 50 elections—51, counting the District of Columbia. They all run their own election, and then the results are tabulated. I’m thinking of the President’s race, the only race where your vote matters outside your own state.
One of the advantages we have in securing American elections from a national standpoint is because we don’t have just one system, the Russians or Chinese or Iranians can’t just hack or figure out one system. If they could figure out—we’ll just pick one—if they could hack Maryland, if they could figure out how to affect actual votes in Maryland and that system was the same as the whole country, then they’d have figured out how to get into the system of the whole country.
So our decentralization is actually a form of security against foreign threats to U.S. elections. It’s a very significant form of security, actually. So there are a couple of different reasons. You don’t want to centralize it with a one-size-fits-all Washington solution in your election processes.
Mr. Jekielek: Very interesting.
Mr. Cuccinelli: That last point, by the way, nobody ever talks about the security benefits of what amounts to 51 different processes.
Mr. Jekielek: No, and frankly, I hadn’t thought about it myself. So Ken, you recently became the chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative. I want to give you a chance to talk about that a little bit. It also explained the philosophy that you’re bringing to everything you’re telling me here today.
Mr. Cuccinelli: Well, we can start with the philosophy. It’s short—easy to vote, hard to cheat. That’s the goal. The Election Transparency Initiative that I chair is a joint project of the Susan B. Anthony List, pro-life group, and the American Principles Project, a pro-family socially conservative group, both of whom view clean elections as a prerequisite to them being able to make their case to the American people.
So people naturally ask, “What’s a pro-life group doing in voter integrity?” The answer is, “Elections are where we make our case. We believe we’re on the side of truth, not the truth is on our side. We’re on the side of truth in proclaiming the dignity of human life.”
Marjorie, Dannenfelser, who leads Susan B. Anthony Lists had an op-ed not too long ago, in which she made the point that most major abortion gains by the pro-abortion side are made in courts, the least democratic institution in our governmental system. There’s no representational element to the courts. They’re insulated from it intentionally, to maintain their independence.
But when we can compete in the marketplace of ideas we’re winning, even with all of the other social decline. We’ve seen men competing in women’s sports by declaring they’re women, rising divorce—pick your social ill. Yet people are becoming more and more and more pro-life. The simple answer for why that is, is the truth is driving that.
People see that life begins at conception. They literally can see it now. Ultrasounds and so forth are getting better and better. Our knowledge that didn’t exist when Roe versus Wade was decided has advanced so much. There’s so much truth for us to sell, if you will, to educate people with, that we keep marching forward, so long as we can make our case.
H.R.1 is a threat to the idea that elections are going to be free and fair at all. It’s like having a paid referee reffing your basketball game. No one would think that game is fair. And that’s what H.R.1 does. All we are asking for is that the referee play even. We don’t need any advantage and we’re not seeking one.
We’re just looking for free, fair, clear, transparent, secure elections. We named the effort I lead the Election Transparency Initiative, because you have to be able to see how well your system works and to have confidence in it.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final thoughts before we finish up?
Mr. Cuccinelli: We are at electiontransparency.org, for people who want to see more of what we’re doing. We are working to avoid H.R.1 and S. 1, these terrible federal bills that would take over and destroy state elections. At the same time, we’re trying to encourage states to make common sense reforms.
For instance, include voter ID with absentee balloting. Allow both sides to watch every step in the process of the election, including the counting and the processing of ballots so they can have confidence in the outcome of those processes. We’re making progress slowly but surely. It’s definitely to the benefit of America, so long as we can avoid disasters like H.R.1.
Mr. Jekielek: Ken Cuccinelli, it’s such a pleasure to have you on.
Mr. Cuccinelli: Good to be with you.
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