How we can save the integrity of our elections…
By: Hayden Cunningham
Joe Biden has done everything in his power to label recent voter reform laws as “racist” and “Jim Crow.” He has stated this week that any proposed reform by Republicans is an attempt of “voter suppression” and the greatest threat since the Civil War.
What are the laws that he is referring to? Mostly Voter ID laws that demand a voter to show proof of identification. But it’s not just President Biden making this allegation. nearly all leaders of the Democratic Party are screaming at the idea of voter reform.
This is a topic with clear problems and solutions. The problem is a nationwide concern of election integrity. In 2016, many prominent democrats accused the election of being rigged by Russia to put Donald Trump in office. After the 2020 election, republicans stormed Capitol Hill because they thought the election was rigged for Joe Biden. If both sides are complaining about distrust in our election system, then something needs to be done to improve security.
Senate democrats have tried to pass the “For the People Act” voting rights bill. This has nothing to do with “voting rights.” Here are some of the components of this bill:
For the People Act
- Originally called for the abolishment of voter photo ID laws
- Federalize election procedures of the entire country
- Legalize ballot harvesting
- Public funding of elections.
These are terrible solutions that make that will make the vulnerability of our elections worse.
Our country needs actual voting reform. We need laws that can secure the integrity of our elections and reduce distrust in out voting process. Here are some necessary solutions that must be imposed in furture elections:
Ballot harvesting should be illegal
Ballot harvesting is when a third party collects your ballots and transports them to the polling center. These third parties can be partisan, and are not regulated to be objective and impartial. Because of this, there is a great concern that the third party could tamper with ballots. Nothing is stopping them from throwing away ballots or even changing what the ballot says.
Tampering occurs every election year. There have been several stories after each election of ballots found in a car trunk. Some states vary on their laws regarding ballot harvesting, but the state where ballot harvesting is executed the most is California (the state with the most electoral votes).
There is no reason why someone other than a family member or the actual voter can’t drop-off an absentee ballot at a polling center. A presidential election is every four years on the same specified day. There is plenty of time to plan accordingly. Having a third party collect and deliver ballots is a surefire way to have some type of election tampering.
No ballots mailed to the home’s of people who do not request them
In the state of California, a ballot for the 2020 election was mailed to every registered voter regardless of them signing up for a ballot. This has caused two major problems. The first is that many voters had ballots mailed to addresses they recently moved from. The second is that California residents that vote in person generally do not have to show any form of Identification. This can lead to people voting twice, once with their mail-in ballot and once again in person. The process to cross-reference can be drawn out and complicated, and double voters are likely to slip through the cracks.
Ballots mailed out en masse can cause serious problems. Every ballot needs to be handled with extreme security, because every ballot is valuable. Mail-in ballots should not be mailed to anyone who did not already request one by filling out a form and verifying both their name and address.
Photo ID should be a nationwide requirement for voting
74% of white voters and 73% of black voters support required photo ID for voting. A photo ID is used for so many day-to-day activities including buying alcohol, buying cigarettes, opening a bank account, picking up a prescription, etc. There is no reasonable argument against mandating photo ID for all voters. The only arguments we have heard against them have been reagrding race. The argument that black people cannot get identification is incredibly offensive.
Most Americans already have a photo ID. 87% of black people have ID, 90% of Latin Americans have ID, and 95% of white people have ID. The opportunity to get a photo ID is available for everyone, and is affordable in every state. If we already require ID for activities like buying an M-rated video game, why would not think that voting is important enough to require photo identification?
No absentee/mail-in voting for able-bodied citizens
This may be the most unpopular voter reform, but its necessary. Every voter should be required to vote in-person. Only the elderly, the disabled, and the military should be exempt from this. There is no reason why this cannot be done (it has been the process throughout our country’s history). Many states have laws requiring employers to give time off to vote, and everyone has time to plan for election day. If there are not enough polling centers in some areas, then we make more. If there are long lines, then people have to wait.
Here’s a deal I would make with Democratic leaders in Washington: we can make election day a federal holiday like you propose if we ban mail-in voting.
Other countries do not have this argument about mail-in voting because they know it is a highly vulnerable system. The United States, however, makes the issue all about race. Among OECD countries, 78% of countries have either banned mail-in ballots or require a photo ID for those living in the country to get a mail-in ballot. According to Newsweek, among the countries in the European Union, “63 percent ban mail-in voting unless living abroad and another 22 percent require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot.”
Election results should be tallied by election night
It took several days after the 2020 election to declare Joe Biden the winner. Some states were called far too early, while others were called far too late. There is no reason why our country cannot tabulate all votes on the same day they were submitted. To accept anything other than the results on the night of the election is absurd.
Media networks should not be reporting states prematurely, either. Cable news should wait to call a state until there is a clear winner, not just projections of a winner. This can prevent mistakes and also prevent voter discouragement in states that are still voting after other states have closed their polling centers.
RCV may be an appealing system in the future of our elections (among states of course, not federally since we still have the electoral college).
In ranked-choice voting, candidates are picked in order of preference. Instead of selecting one candidate you select, your top 5 (for exampled) preferred candidates are chosen in order. The total first place votes are tabulated. If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, then there is an immediate run-off. The candidate with the lowest number of votes is removed from selection, and everyone that voted for that person as their #1 choice will now have their #2 choice used. The process is repeated until a candidate has a majority of the votes.
Here is a very simple video to explain the process:
This may be a viable system moving forward. Ranked-choice voting gives voters a reason to support a third-party candidate without feeling like their vote is worthless. The current flaw with RCV is the time it takes to count the votes. The New York Mayoral race featured RCV for their primary elections, but the city had several problems calculating vote totals. As long as results can be announced quickly, this may be a system of voting that can leave more voters satisfied with the election results.
Is the federal government allowed to pass election laws? Here’s what Article 1, section 4 of the Constitution states:
“The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations“
While states have the right to establish their time, place, and voting system for elections, Congress can add regulations. This can often lead to legal battles over state election laws like the ones we have seen this year in Texas and Georgia.
Giving states the power to establish their own process for voting actually strengthens the security of our elections. If someone wanted to rig the election, it is very difficult to do when every state has their own system. If the entire election system was federalized, it would be much easier to tamper with the results.
So the question has to be asked: why are democratic leaders against laws that strengthen the security of our elections. It is mainly two reasons:
The first reason is ignorance. There are politicians that genuinely believe there are people too stupid to be able to get ID. Some of our politicians also believe that voting laws are racist, even though there is no significant evidence to prove that.
The second reason is about political gain. The Democratic Party (the politicians, not the voters) think that stricter voting laws will help republicans. The dirty secret is that a lot of them want illegal immigrants to vote. Politicians are being more open about this desire, and even the city of San Francisco allowed illegal immigrants to vote in 2018.
Our elections are incredibly valuable. Voting gives people a voice, and many see it as a duty in a free country. To advocate against stricter voting laws is undermining the integrity of our elections. It also causes more accusations of our elections being “rigged” or “stolen.” This is an issue where both parties need to set politics aside and protect our democratic process of voting.