It’s Time To Restore Voters’ Faith In America’s Elections Once And For All
Since the 2020 election, there has been a movement by many states to strengthen their election integrity procedures and thereby improve voter confidence in the process. Lawyers Democracy Fund is among those lawyers groups advocating for this important process of fundamental change.
Numerous states have enacted commonsense voting safeguards, including updating and verifying voting rolls, stronger voter ID requirements, stronger signature verification on mail ballots, procedures to cure defective ballot submissions, regulations prohibiting dishonest wholesale mail ballot “harvesting,” meaningful regulations for and surveillance of ballot drop boxes, barriers to curb actions by rogue and partisan election officials, increased security features for mail ballots, fair and honest provisions and access for poll watchers, prohibitions of partisan private election operations “contributions” and uniform election procedures within each of the states.
Many states have increased investigation, prosecution and penalties for vote fraud. All of these important improvements have attracted significant support from voters.
Many of these reforms have primarily originated from conservative-led states, including Florida, Georgia, Texas, Iowa and many others. Even politically divided states like Kentucky and Virginia have passed important reforms on a bipartisan basis.
Far from making it more difficult to vote, as many on the Left have asserted without evidence, these integrity laws bolster voter confidence, which drives up voter turnout. These laws have actually made the voting process more secure without making it more difficult to vote.
Unfortunately, the governors of certain key states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Michigan have vetoed important election packages put forth by their legislatures to strengthen elections. These four states in particular were marred by election issues in 2020. They remain vulnerable to election mayhem once again in 2022.
One of the ways that voter confidence and national prestige is most severely injured is by delayed election results. Indeed, certain states seem to have embarrassing hiccups time and again in counting and verifying results.
As 2020 showed, states that rapidly and chaotically expanded mail voting also have embarrassingly slow counting rates, with predictable suspicions aroused in the electorate. Serious problems managing vote by mail ballots remain in these states as exemplified by Pennsylvania’s recent Republican Senate primary.
Initial results were delayed because of mail ballot problems. And Pennsylvania is still beleaguered by Act 77, a poorly drafted law of questionable legitimacy, which was administered in such different ways in different parts of the state in 2020 that results were questioned for weeks.
New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary election in 2021 had 135,000 “test ballots” accidentally commingled with real ballots and counted, which delayed election results by several weeks. This was exacerbated by New York City’s problematic ranked-choice voting system.
California’s elections continue to be marred by confusion and poor administration. Election results frequently arrive weeks after Election Day. And it had one of its lowest turnouts in the recent primary election
Poor election administration and late counting results seem to be characteristic of states which have failed to investigate and consider reform to their election laws. New York took several weeks to call many of its elections in 2020, including multiple races in New York City and a congressional race upstate.
Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Arizona and other swing states failed to report election results on election night, leaving voters to question whether anything nefarious had taken place when the election was finally called on Nov. 7 for Biden. In contrast, Georgia, which had many problems in 2020, enacted integrity reform and the election went smoothly.
Georgia had a historic huge increase in turnout.
Until the recalcitrant states work diligently to enact meaningful and transparent election reforms, we can expect this trend of delayed reporting, troublesome elections and suspicious voters to continue.
In America, it should be easy to vote and almost impossible to cheat. If we can land on Mars, we can work together to achieve efficient, accurate, elections with commonsense election integrity safeguards.
Thomas R. Spencer is the Vice President of Lawyers Democracy Fund, a non-partisan organization with a long history of advancing the role of ethics, integrity, and legal professionalism in the electoral process, including safeguarding the right of eligible voters to vote. He has more than 40 years of legal experience, including as co-counsel in Bush v. Gore in 2000.
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