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Voting Rights: Democrats Should Take Republicans Up on Their Offer

The Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate, which was agreed to by all Democratic Senators, would do these things:

  • Establish minimum number of days of early voting

  • Allow vote by mail for any reason

  • List standards of acceptable forms of voter ID’s if a state requires voter ID

  • Make Election Day a national holiday

  • Require states to keep voting lines to 30 minutes or less (or what is not clear to me. Fine the state?)

  • Right to vote for persons convicted of a felony after they are released from prison

  • Require states to offer online voter registration and voter registration at Departments of Motor Vehicles.

  • Outlaw partisan gerrymandering

  • Make it a federal crime to harass, intimidate, threaten, or coerce poll workers or election officials.

  • A program to match donations made by small donors, for congressional candidates who opt in.

Each of these I would support. Any of them would be good. From a strategic standpoint for Democrats, I see no reason to tie these together. Have separate votes for each of these provisions. Make Republicans go on the record that they oppose each of these. In most cases, there is no legitimate reason to oppose these. Why would you object to voting lines being less than 30 minutes? Let Republicans vote to maintain partisan gerrymandering, without any excuse that there is some other provision tied to it that they object to. Let them vote against making it a crime to threaten an election worker. What pretext would you have for that vote?

In other news on voting, the Republican Arizona state Senate passed a bill to mandate all paper ballots and full manual counting of all ballots. Amen! Democrats should take it! They should introduce federal legislation to do that and have it again as a stand alone bill with just that provision. In 2000 and 2004 I suspected, and I still suspect, that vote totals in Florida and Ohio and maybe elsewhere were electronically changed to swing those states to George W. Bush. I was demanding only paper ballots and only manual counting of them. Computer science professors have testified that it is child’s play to hack into U.S. election systems and change the vote totals without being detected.

Republicans at that time and many Democrats responded to our calls to secure the election systems that we were being paranoid. They basically said, “Sure it is possible to change the vote totals but no one would ever do such a thing.” Ya, sure. But my response would be, “Fine, say I am being paranoid. Humor me, though, and just count the ballots by hand. It would cost nothing.”

What is so unreasonable about wanting to count ballots by hand and not trusting that electronically counted vote totals could not be hacked and altered? Even if we are being paranoid, what harm is there in eliminating that possibility? Unless you want to be able to alter the vote totals.

So I would say to Democrats, Republicans want to enact this common sense voter security measure. Take them up on it.

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