March 6, 2021

More Voters ... or Less

By Stephen Tuttle | Feb. 13, 2021

Legislators are busy at work trying to change the voting systems they created. About 500 bills have been introduced across the nation, and more than 100 of them, in 28 states, would restrict our ability to vote.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice — and full credit to them for the following information — the restrictive proposals fall into four broad categories.

First, there is a blizzard of bills designed to limit access to early voting by mail. Missouri would eliminate the pandemic as an excuse to obtain an early ballot. Pennsylvania and Arizona would eliminate their permanent early-voting list, and the former would eliminate no-excuse early voting, by mail or otherwise.

Four states would change which government entity can mail out early-ballot applications without an affirmative request: South Carolina would require a copy of a photo ID to accompany early ballots, plus require the name, address, and a copy of the driver's license of anyone witnessing the completion of an early ballot. Arizona would require all early ballots to be notarized — as if that somehow validates their content. Several states would eliminate early ballot dropboxes, and Virginia would require all early ballots to be dropped off at a single location in the state. 

Second, several states would enact much stricter voter-ID requirements, including photo ID, without exemptions. Six states not currently requiring photo ID when voting would mandate it, and several would require a photocopy of a driver's license or state issued ID to be included with an early ballot.

Third, several states have introduced legislation making it harder even to register to vote. New York and Mississippi would require proof of citizenship. Texas would take things a step further, requiring all registration applications be sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety for citizenship verification. Four states would eliminate election-day registration, and Alaska would end their automatic registration.

Finally, at least six states have introduced bills to allow a more aggressive purging of voter rolls.

All of this, we've been told, is to “restore integrity and confidence” in elections. Politicians lied about the election for months, in some cases years, calling them fraudulent and rigged absent any evidence at all. If there is a lack of confidence, it is because of their rhetoric, and they could fix that by simply telling the following truths:

• There was neither widespread fraud nor irregularities in the 2020 election.

• Your ballots, whether mailed early or cast at the polls, were accurately counted for the candidates you chose. Governors, secretaries of state, and county clerks around the country — Republicans and Democrats alike — conducted an honest and accurate election.

• There is zero evidence any voting machine miscounted any votes. (The one location in which that happened, in northern Michigan's own Antrim County, was quickly corrected.)

We know all of this because the 2020 election was the most inspected, observed, audited, recounted, and investigated in history. Federal prosecutors, international observers, and our own Department of Homeland Security agreed this was a secure and fair election.

That would be a far better message than trying to strip away voting rights based on lies those authoring the legislation created in the first place. 

Additionally, much of the proposed legislation involves restrictions already rejected by various state and federal courts. A bill in Wisconsin tries to circumvent that by including a courts-can't-change-this section that would seem to fly in the face of those pesky checks and balances our system provides. 

Not to be outdone, 35 states have introduced more than 400 bills that seem to either increase voting rights or maintain what currently exists. Nearly all involve early voting. Eleven states would allow everyone to vote early by mail in every election. Most would make permanent the early voting that was allowed in 2020. Another eight states would allow or expand the use of early ballot dropboxes, and 13 states would allow the processing and counting of early ballots prior to election day.

Thirteen states would allow people to register to vote as late as election day, and several states would restore voting rights to some felons. 

Most of this has partisanship at its heart; both parties think their bills will help their candidates. But enactment of much of it is unlikely. Republicans will have little success restricting voters in Democrat-controlled states, and the same holds true for Democrats trying to expand voting in GOP-controlled states. Both sides have also introduced legislation not likely to be court-approved, especially since most of the more restrictive measures have already been rejected by various courts. 

More people voting is a good thing. Making sure those votes are legitimate is also a good thing. Telling the truth about the 2020 elections would be an even better thing and the best way to assure all of us our votes were counted accurately and will be again in the future. 


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