Another area we need to discuss is #voting rights. Recently this is where the liberals cry out that many of the new laws are an attack on democracy, we will discuss below. The right of every American over the age of 18 to vote is a matter of law. It is in the constitution and various federal and state laws. Over the years there have been modifications and attempts to thwart the law. In the beginning the right to vote was restricted to white male property owners, which was the standard for the day. Ultimately the right was extended to black males then native American males then to woman. As stated, there were attempts to subvert these rights such as the Jim Crow laws in the south. Ultimately universal suffrage was established.
Like so many things today, technology has allowed the process of voting to change and like so many other changes in society, technology have brought, along with progress, problems. While in the old days there were major problems with #ballot box stuffing and other forms of fraud, today we face the problems of cybercrimes used to alter results. This along with remnants of more traditional physical forms of cheating, such as ballot harvesting and straight out exchanging legitimate ballots with fake ones leads to the need for new laws and processes.
Today we have an argument over how to keep up with voting rights and what to call the new process. Some call the new laws #voter #suppression others call the new laws #voting# integrity. Much is being made over the laws being voter suppression and throw backs to Jim Crow. The claim is that the Democrats assume than the more blacks are registered the greater likelihood of a Democrat victory. It is feared also by the Republicans. Yet the bigger fear from the right, is registering people who are not eligible to vote. This last becomes easier when there is no requirement to prove who you are or there is no identification requirement for mail-in Ballots.
The lefts concerns seem to be unfounded since better than 90% of blacks vote for Democrats and this has not changed in the last several election cycles. There has been a recent movement known as Blexit that is designed to move more black votes to the republican column. While there has been some indication that the strangle hold the democrats have on the black vote has weakened, it is far from a major change in voting patterns. This holds true for another major democratic voting bloc, Jewish voters. Regardless of an increasing anti-Semitism with-in the Democrat party, Jewish voter still cling to the belief that the left is the only movement that represents their needs.
Let’s look at the numbers to decide if voter registration is being suppressed. According to the Census Bureau (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, November 2020.) survey of a total population of voting age at 231 million, 168 million are registered or 72.7%. In total 155 million reported voting which is 66.8% of the population. Of this 182 million are white comprising 74.2 percent of the white population registered and 124 million (68.3%) voted. Of African Americans, 30 million are of voting age with 20 million (69%) registered. From this population 19 million reported to have voted, which is 62.6% of the total African American population of voting age. With 70% of eligible white voters registered and 69% of eligible blacks registered the delta is statistically insignificant. A caveat is the numbers come from US Census Bureau survey and are subject to error. Most survey have a standard deviation of +/-3%.
The reason many on the right think there is a need for laws to increase voting integrity is the concern that a large number of people who are not eligible to vote are being registered and voting, or someone using their identity is voting for them. The question to be asked is, do the numbers support this assertion? The question is very difficult to answer. Depending on which poll you read or what is declared, changes from day to day. To see the problem Judicial Watch claims there are 1.8 million excess or ghost voters spread across 29 states. With the most being in Colorado, Maine, Alaska, New Jersey, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Vermont. While 1.8 million will do little to change the popular vote it could change a States outcome that would affect the electoral college. While this is not the only time in US history that voting outcomes have been questioned, laws have always been enacted to blunt the impact of cheating. Some states are enacting laws to do just that based on the claims of how the cheating is done. This then raises the question of, is it voter suppression or integrity?
Much has been made of the new Georgia law, so let’s look at what that law does and why there is so much discussion. Wikipedia puts it as:
The Election Integrity Act of 2021, originally known as Georgia Senate Bill 202, is a Georgia law overhauling elections in the state. It requires voter identification requirements on absentee ballots, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, expands early in-person voting, bars officials from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot request forms, reduces the amount of time people have to request an absentee ballot, increases voting stations or staff and equipment where there have been long lines, makes it a crime for outside groups to give free food or water to voters waiting in line, gives the state legislature greater control over election administration, and shortens runoff elections, among other provisions.
Now according to the New York Times:
- Voters will now have less time to request absentee ballots.
- There are strict new ID requirements for absentee ballots.
- It’s now illegal for election officials to mail out absentee ballot applications to all voters.
- Drop boxes still exist … but barely.
- Mobile voting centers (think an R.V. where you can vote) are essentially banned.
- Early voting is expanded in a lot of small counties, but probably not in more populous ones.
- Offering food or water to voters waiting in line now risks misdemeanor charges.
- If you go to the wrong polling place, it will be (even) harder to vote.
- If election problems arise, a common occurrence, it is now more difficult to extend voting hours.
- With a mix of changes to vote-counting, high-turnout elections will probably mean a long wait for results.
- Election officials can no longer accept third-party funding (a measure that nods to right-wing conspiracy theories).
- With an eye toward voter fraud, the state attorney general will manage an election hotline.
- The Republican-controlled legislature has more control over the State Election Board.
- The secretary of state is removed as a voting member of the State Election Board.
- The G.O.P.-led legislature is empowered to suspend county election officials.
- Runoff elections will happen faster — and could become harder to manage.
From the aspect of what the law does and how the left sees the law we have a very clear view of the problem. Anyone who deals in disinformation knows that there must be an element of truth in the beginning. In this case let’s take the first of the NYT points “Voters will now have less time to request absentee ballots.” This is true, it goes from six months to three months. Or 180 days to 90 days. The question now is does leaving a person only three months to request an absentee ballot disenfranchise them. Another example of misdirection is “Early voting is expanded in a lot of small counties, but probably not in more populous ones.” Note the phrase “…but probably not in more populous ones.” This is true throughout the argument from the left, not factual problems but perceived worst-case scenarios put forth as fact. This is true for many arguments the right issues as well. Conservatives must learn to exclude emotions from discussions and deal with facts.
The left has made much over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the 1965 Voting rights act declaring that the court has reversed the law and we are moving backward into a time of literacy tests and other voter suppression laws, the fact is that the SCOTUS did no such thing. In fact, according to the DOJ:
“On June 25, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to use the coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act to determine which jurisdictions are subject to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013). The Supreme Court did not rule on the constitutionality of Section 5 itself. The effect of the Shelby County decision is that the jurisdictions identified by the coverage formula in Section 4(b) no longer need to seek preclearance for the new voting changes, unless they are covered by a separate court order entered under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act.”
“Section 5 was enacted to freeze changes in election practices or procedures in covered jurisdictions until the new procedures have been determined, either after administrative review by the Attorney General, or after a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, to have neither discriminatory purpose or effect. Section 5 was designed to ensure that voting changes in covered jurisdictions could not be implemented until a favorable determination has been obtained.
The requirement was enacted in 1965 as temporary legislation, to expire in five years, and applicable only to certain states. The specially covered jurisdictions were identified in Section 4 by a formula. The first element in the formula was that the state or political subdivision of the state maintained on November 1, 1964, a “test or device,” restricting the opportunity to register and vote. The second element of the formula would be satisfied if the Director of the Census determined that less than 50 percent of persons of voting age were registered to vote on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percent of persons of voting age voted in the presidential election of November 1964. Application of this formula resulted in the following states becoming, in their entirety, “covered jurisdictions”: Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia, in addition, certain political subdivisions (usually counties) in four other states (Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, and North Carolina were covered. It also provided a procedure to terminate this coverage”
In short what the decision said was the data being used was 50 years old and if congress wanted to continue to enforce this section, they would need to update the data, which they did not. The House did pass, along partisan lines, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act known as HR 4 in August 24, 2021. As stated above the original Voting Rights Act of 1965 was intended to be temporary and expire in five years. Let’s see what would trigger federal interference in the new law.
- Any state that has had 15 or more voting rights violations within the last 25 years.
- Any state that has had 10 or more voting rights violations and at least 1 of those violations were committed by the state itself (as opposed to a jurisdiction within the state) within the last 25 years.
- Any subdivision in a state that has had 3 or more voting rights violations within the last 25 years would also be subject to the requirement.
We now go from a prescriptive law that was intended to last five years to a punitive law that lets the federal government look back 25 years.
The conservative view if this is that it is an intrusion of the Federal Government into what is inherently and constitutionally a power that is reserved for the States. What many fail to understand is that other then Presidential, all elections are State based and controlled. Yes, all members of the House and Senate reside in Washington and make federal law. They still however represent their States or Districts not the nation as a whole. There is an escape clause for the Federal government to step in as needed. This is found in Article I, Section 4, Clause 1 of the constitution:
‘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, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.’
This does not give the congress unlimited powers over State election laws. The voting rights act of 1965 was an example of Congress acting for the good of the nation against State laws that were without a doubt in violation of the Constitution as well as an insult to the values of the United States. Most of the time when a state election law is taken to task it is done by the Supreme Court. A case in point is its 2015 decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The State legislature objected to the validity of the Commission and its redistricting. The commission was established by ballot initiative and the court held that the Arizona constitution allowed the people to make laws as if they were the legislature and therefore did not violate Article 1.
So, what is the difference with the new law and past laws. For one it allows the Feds to look back 25 years to determine if any laws had been broken. This means had a law been broken but corrected, the Feds still have the authority to use that violation to bring the entire state election process under federal control. In rejecting sections of the 1965 law the Court found that the data being used was 50 years old and instructed the legislature to correct that. The correction is to use 25-year-old data. If this law is ever passed, we will see how the court handles it.