In 2016, many Democrats could not believe that the fellow coming forward was Donald Trump Surely, they thought, a mistake had been made. It wasn’t long before “Not My President” bumper stickers became popular around the country.
Democrats and Republicans do have a lot in common. Four years later, Republicans are just as convinced that Joe Biden is in the White House because of eleventh-hour rules changes by non-legislators and by a raft of lawsuits that challenged the rules that existed even after the election.
So how do we rebuild trust in our democracy? As in most cases, things work best at the local level. That’s the place where democracy thrives. The further up you go, the more room there is for rage and demagoguery.
The honor system works in a high school election, but it falls far short when it comes to partisan politics. Fair elections begin with the city or town clerk and the maintenance of accurate voter rolls. Now the challenge is to keep the list updated so as to prevent dead people from returning to life in order to cast a ballot. A reliable system could then be implemented where citizens could vote by mail or in person at the place in which they were registered. Of course, this would mean more money would need to go into election administration, but it would be worth it.
To make voting easier, the number of polling places should be expanded, especially in areas with large minority populations so as to reduce long lines and waiting times.
Voter identification is essential but even that only works if the city or town clerk has accurate voter lists. The easier mail-in voting and counting late-arriving ballots is precisely the wrong way to go if we are to restore confidence in an election. The integrity of an election works best with in-person voting, limiting mail-in ballots to extraordinary circumstances, and defining a clear end to the election process.
Voting needs to made easier but elections need to be protected from hordes of attorneys. For instance, Democrats filed more than 300 disruptive lawsuits in 2020 during the election seeking to block state election laws and non-legislative bodies actually revised state election rules.
Once election rules are in place, they ought not be changed until after an election. It makes no sense to change election rules in the process of an elections. Sadly, YouGov polls showed that two-thirds of Democrats were convinced that Russian hackers had actually changed the vote totals. Based on results from similar polls, 77 percent of Republicans believe that the 2020 election was free and fair.
In a razor thin divide between Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate, and with a majority of Republicans doubting the legitimacy of the past presidential election, this is hardly the time to declare a political mandate like the misnamed “For the People Act,” which is nothing more than a federal power grab over legitimate state authority.
In the final analysis, state legislatures are the best means to set election laws. Politics closest to home makes the most sense. That’s the route that’s closest to the people.
Federal power grabs are dangerous and add further doubt to the integrity of election results. Everybody knows that. Whenever one political party forces its will over the other without even attempting reasonable compromise, it invites the other party to do the same thing when it regains power. In these political power struggles, no matter who wins, the people usually lose.
Our great American Republic depends upon the rights of the various states, and upon free and honest elections. We must protect the right of our state to administer our affairs without the strong-armed interference of the federal government.
The misnamed “For the People Act.” is not at all “for the people.”
Frank Mazzaglia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.