Al Cross: Both parties are going too far with election bills; a bipartite compromise is necessary
In a democratic republic, it is essential that voters have confidence in the system by which they, democratically with one vote each, choose their representatives. Without this confidence, voter turnout will continue to decline, the system will not be truly representative, and elections can be more easily manipulated.
Some elected officials from a political party, spurred on by their unofficial leader’s baseless lie that he was unfairly ousted, pass state laws they say are aimed at restoring voter confidence in the election – while the real impact will be to make voting more difficult for people who are less likely to support the candidates of that party.
That’s not happening in Kentucky, where the legislature made it easier to vote this year, but not as easily as it is due to the pandemic. We still make it harder to vote than most states, and we have a stake in the national struggle.
Some other states are passing or attempting to pass laws that give their legislatures the power to override state election officials – which, overall, have one of our country’s best public service records. honorable and impartial.
If such laws had existed in enough states last year, this unofficial party leader could still be president, thanks to what would have been a sort of official coup. He wants to run again in 2024, so such laws could constitute a clear and current danger for representative democracy.
But enough, for now, of Republicans and Donald Trump.
House Democrats have, as usual, overreacted by passing a bill that is a long wishlist and has no chance of being passed by the Senate. The stalemate is attributed to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, but several other Democratic senators know the bill goes too far and would like to see it changed before voting for it.
Manchin is right when he says election laws should be passed in a bipartisan fashion, to maintain confidence in the system. This one could be bipartisan, if Manchin agreed to support the lowering of the threshold to end the obstruction of the Senate from 60 votes to 55, and if the Democrats were prepared to abandon the provisions which are anathema to Republicans, like a $ 6 to $ 1 game of small contributions to federal campaigns.
(The match is said to have come from surcharges on criminal and civil penalties, but Republicans would still call it “taxpayer money,” as they did when they cut public funding for races for the Kentucky governor. )
The Democrats’ huge bill needs a lot of work. He tries to do too much in some cases and not enough in others.
It would require states to automatically register as voters to all who are eligible, until voting day, and require states to offer no-excuse mail ballot and 15 days of early voting. Such measures are a threat to federalism, the founding American principle. Lawyers argue the bill would only apply to federal elections, but unlike Kentucky and a few other states, most state elections coincide with federal elections, and you can’t run an election with two voting systems.
Lawyers also argue that the bill’s provisions on postal voting would not open the door to widespread electoral fraud. They have to check out Kentucky, where we have a long line of criminal convictions involving votes that were bought and secured by improper use of mail ballots. States like ours need the ability to pass their own laws to thwart such schemes, which are prevalent among the poor and undereducated.
Such electoral fraud is easy when there are a relatively small number of votes, such as local elections in most counties in Kentucky. But the more votes, the more difficult the fraud and the easier it is to uncover, as Republicans in North Carolina discovered when a member of their party was caught in a scheme to ” collect »postal ballots in a recent Congress election.
In the biggest election of all, for the president, there was no widespread electoral fraud in 2020, as reported by dozens of judges and Trump’s own Justice Department. But his lies about the election are believed by so many Republicans that their lawmakers have a talking point to pass laws that will make it harder for the poor to vote.
Federalism lets states hold their own elections, but some states go so far as to threaten another fundamental principle: fair elections. Georgian law “facilitates third party challenges to the legitimacy of votes and arrogates to the state legislature … the power to appoint most members of the state electoral council, who in turn have the power. to replace county electoral boards, ”The New York Times noted in an op-ed advising Congressional Democrats to rewrite their election bill.
Courts, not partisan legislatures, have the final say in electoral disputes. Certain national standards are necessary. Supporters of the bill say democracy is in danger of being shattered; even if it is not, it is clearly folded.