There are many party political issues out there, but electoral integrity shouldn’t be one of them.
What could be the basis of the concept of representative government but that citizens have confidence that an election – be it for the president or the dog catcher – was won fairly or fairly lost?
In the recent past, however, this topic has been very controversial. For our discussion here, let’s put aside any feelings we might have about a particular choice.
Here’s the conflict: one side is primarily concerned that all votes are legitimately cast; that is, each vote can be assigned to the person who voted. On the other hand, it is primarily about ensuring that as many people as possible have the opportunity to cast their votes.
Now an obvious question arises. Why are these two concerns incompatible? Well, the answer is, it’s not you. We should be able to verify voters while making voting easier.
Yes, even in politics it should be possible to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Let’s look at how Georgia, where there has been a lot of controversy over the vote, has approached this issue.
First concern: voter ID.
The recent Georgian electoral reform law requires voters to identify themselves in order to receive a postal vote. Since 2008, the state has required voters to show government-issued photo identification when voting in person.
Requiring the same level of security for postal voting seems to make perfect sense. Indeed, one wonders why this wasn’t addressed earlier. There’s just no good evidence that having ID can make it hard to choose. Have you ever met someone who didn’t have an ID? Everyone?
When a federal judge dismissed the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Georgia Personal Voting ID Act, he found that in two years of litigation, the challengers couldn’t produce a single resident of the state who couldn’t vote because of the new ID card.
But wait, as the TV commercials say, there’s more!
New Georgia law states that you can meet the requirement of a voter’s ID with a “copy of a recent utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing the name and address” of the would-be voter.
It’s worth noting that the language on voter ID cards for postal votes is the same as the language in the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, which the US Senate passed 92-2 votes. The “yes” votes at the time included Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.
We come to the second concern: to make voting easier. The allegation against Georgia’s new electoral law is that it prohibits voters from having access to water while they are in line. You have to admit that sounds harsh.
But if we dig a little deeper, we find that Georgia, like most other states, prohibits elections within 50 feet of a polling station or within 25 feet of voters standing in line.
The new law only added that within such distances no one “may give, offer or participate in any voter money or gifts, including but not limited to food and drink”.
In other words, a candidate, their supporters, or an activist group cannot show up at a polling station with a truckload of Happy Meals and start distributing them to voters standing in line.
The clear intention here is to prevent any party activists from improperly influencing voters with money or gifts, including food and drink. The idea that Georgia is somehow doing something nefarious by preventing free gift giving in the elections is bizarre to say the least – especially when you consider that it is a common practice in most other states, including New York and New Jersey (how it should be). .
Incidentally, the law states that it is okay for election officials to provide “self-service water from an unattended container” to “a voter waiting in line”. And of course, you can bring a bottle of water with you if you’re concerned about dying of thirst when choosing.
But wait, there’s more! Georgia added extra election days on the weekend for those who want to vote earlier.
Calling these reforms “the new Jim Crow” as some have done, or an example of “voter suppression” is just not true. In fact, it is so far from the truth that one wonders about the prosecutor’s motives. But most of all, it is an insult to the people who have really suffered from the restrictive electoral laws of the past.
But those days are long gone. And the numbers prove it. Georgia has had record levels of voter registration and turnout in the most recent elections, including 2020. This includes blacks and Hispanic Americans. And that’s been the trend for a decade.
Anyone who wants to vote can choose. Introducing some safeguards to build trust that only legal votes will be cast and counted seems like common sense.
So why all the controversy?
This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal