New York University Law Professor Talks Election Law and Democracy – The Parthenon
The resignation of election workers across the country threatens the security of American democracy, according to the latest speaker in the Amicus Curiae series, Lawrence Norden.
Norden works as Senior Director of the Elections and Government Program for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. He came to Marshall on Thursday, Sept. 22, to discuss the effects that allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election have had on U.S. election law and democracy.
“I wanted the most qualified and respected people in the region to attend this conference,” said Patricia Proctor, moderator and organizer of the Amicus Curiae Lecture Series. “And that man is Larry Norden.”
According to Norden, the country’s election officials, including poll workers and clerks, resigned from their posts after receiving death threats, verbal abuse and unwarranted accusations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election. explained that even after the courts dismissed these charges, election workers continued to receive threats.
“Many of the people we depend on for our democracy now face constant fear for their safety,” Norden said.
He also described how politicians in several states have suggested that election officials be investigated and how state legislatures have passed laws to criminalize election workers.
In Texas, it is now a crime for election workers to encourage mail-in voting, which Norden says is fundamental to both the worker’s job and America’s right to vote.
Additionally, Norden explained the negative impact that the widespread resignation of election workers will have on the upcoming elections.
“Fewer, less experienced election workers will likely mean there are likely to be more errors, less ability to react to those errors when they occur,” he said.
“It is, I think, very dangerous in an environment where conspiracy-theorized individuals prepare to amplify even the smallest error that they believe validates their belief.”
Norden went on to say that those who believe in the idea of a stolen election could replace those outgoing election workers while seeking to undermine the security and integrity of future elections. He said some states have proposed laws to give the power to certify elections to partisan legislatures rather than those that facilitate those elections. However, none of the laws mentioned have been adopted.
“I still feel good about American democracy and our ability to hold free and fair elections,” Norden said. He went on to say, despite this, that American democracy is still under threat.
“The next few years will determine how corrosive electoral nihilism is to our democracy,” he said.
Norden cited the Electoral Count Reform Act as a possible solution to the problem of election security in the United States. The Voter Count Reform Act is a bipartisan bill with 10 Democratic supporters and 10 Republican supporters that seeks to overhaul the way ballots in a presidential election are counted.
As for ordinary people who are not in positions of political power, Norden recommended talking with others about American democracy and what it means to preserve and strengthen it. He also encouraged learning more about the electoral process and the security checks in place to ensure a free and fair election.
Resources mentioned include the Brennan Center for Justice website, the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections website, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the US Elections Assistance Commission.
The next Amicus Curiae Conference will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 1 at the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall with Professor Emeritus Nadine Strossen of New York Law School.