Politics Magazine

Congress Must Protect Both Right To Vote & Election Results

Posted on the 07 June 2021 by Jobsanger
Congress Must Protect Both Right To Vote & Election Results
State GOP legislatures are passing voter suppression laws around the country. Two bills are languishing in the Senate that would counter those efforts and protect the right of every citizens to vote -- HR-1 (which would protect voter rights) and HR-4 (which would require Department of Justice approval before a state can change voting rules). Both are good bills and should be passed, but something else must also be done. Congress must also protect the legitimate results of elections (and not allow states to overturn those results).

The following is part of an editorial written by the editorial board of The New York Times:

Republican-controlled state legislatures are whittling away at the integrity of electoral democracy in the United States, rushing to pass laws that make it harder for Americans to vote and easier for partisans to tamper with election results.

It is a legislative assault motivated by the failure of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and justified by baseless allegations about the legitimacy of his defeat. Mr. Trump and his supporters pursued indiscriminate lawsuits to overturn the results and then, urged on by Mr. Trump, some of his supporters stormed the Capitol to halt the completion of the election process. Now they are seeking to rewrite the rules to make it easier for Republicans to win elections without winning the most votes.

This effort is inimical to the most basic principles of free and fair elections: that all who are eligible should have an equal opportunity to vote, that all votes should be counted and that the losing side should accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. . . .

In a statement published this week by the left-leaning think tank New America, more than 100 leading scholars of government warned that election laws in some states “no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections.” The statement warned that “our entire democracy is now at risk.”. . .

The vote-counting process necessarily relies on the judgment and integrity of local officials. No rules can perfectly prevent malfeasance. But Congress can take steps to protect the integrity of the election process.

One important measure included in H.R. 1 is to require a paper record of every vote, so that outcomes can be verified independently.

But the bill needs to go further. Congress also should establish uniform rules for vote counting, certification and challenges. It should also clarify its own role in certifying the results of presidential elections to prevent the possibility that a future Congress would overturn a state’s popular vote. . . .

The power of the states to administer elections is unquestioned, but it is not unlimited. In a representative democracy, the legitimate power of the representatives cannot extend to acts designed to undermine democracy.

If Democrats can find 50 votes for reform, they should not postpone necessary interventions in the illusory hope of a bipartisan breakthrough, nor allow Republicans to filibuster.

American history is sometimes narrated as a gradual expansion of participatory democracy, as workers and women and Black people gained the right to vote. The reality is less flattering. Participation has expanded, and it has contracted. Democracy has strengthened and waned. The gains in the second half of the 20th century are now eroding. There is a narrow window of opportunity to intervene.

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