Voter Suppression is for Losers
We should do everything in our power to increase legal voting in America. The political consequences shouldn’t sway us against that goal if we’re a nation whose leaders are indeed selected by “we the people.” Those who attempt to reduce voter turnout for political ends are no better than someone who cheats at the polls by casting fraudulent ballots. That’s the lens through which policymakers should examine voting laws, and some of the proposals following on the heels of the 2020 election demand serious scrutiny.
Fair elections require voter eligibility verification, proper vote tallies, and meaningful audit capacity.
Start with durable paper ballots. I’d love to get to the point where we can vote digitally in the same way we file our taxes, renew our driver licenses, and make financial transactions. We’re not there yet. States using direct recording electronic ballots have no physical copies of ballots if something goes wrong. That’s why we should demand voter marked paper ballots run through optical scanners.
Expecting people to have a photo identification to vote isn’t as crazy as opponents make it sound, but some of the objections such as cost are reasonable. If photo identification is a requirement to vote, it should be free of charge for voters. The state should also make accommodations for individuals with travel limitations or disabilities to ensure there’s nobody left behind.
When it comes to in-person voting, we should make it easy. Early voting is a great way to reduce lines, accommodate busy schedules, and support active families. Drive-thru or curbside voting isn’t any different. If voters present identification and mark a paper ballot, why should it matter how or when they deliver it prior to election day?
Absentee and mail-in voting are neither uncommon nor necessarily less secure than in-person ballots. Some states like California and Colorado mail ballots directly to voters. Others require applications to vote by mail. States like Alabama require witnesses or notarized signatures.
A notary verifying a photo identification, witnesses, signature verification, or other unique identification method can effectively authenticate the individual casting the ballot.
And, no, voter identification is not racist or some kind of suppression. California, for example, requires identity verification in the voting process even if it’s not at the polling place. In fact, the vast majority of states have some sort of voter verification measure.
If a voter mails in a ballot and the identification checks out, it’s as valid as any other method of voting and far more convenient.
Offering multiple secure methods of voting is as American as it gets. We shouldn’t restrict them arbitrarily.
Voter fraud does exist, but it’s not the rampant problem that some politicians would have us believe. In 2016, the Democrats cast broad doubts on election integrity, and President Donald Trump and many Republicans did the same in 2020.
In spite of partisan squawking, the claim that America’s elections are overrun with fraud simply isn’t true. Entertaining concerns about election validity because a favored candidate lost is understandable, but those claims must be proven by the facts. In the most recent presidential election, Trump’s own administration noted, “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Looking for ways to address the limited voter fraud that does occur won’t change election results in most cases. Clinton needed a massive Russian conspiracy to explain away her loss, and Trump claimed substantial and elaborate fraud across multiple states. It’s clearly much easier on political egos to have a reason for losing aside from the other candidate receiving more votes.
In reality, the conservative Heritage Foundation has tracked down only 1,317 proven instances of voter fraud since 1979. While the list doesn’t purport to be exhaustive, it’s hard to imagine that the Heritage Foundation would willingly ignore credible instances of major voter fraud with such a project. Justin Levitt, a professor at the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, found just 31 credible allegations of voter impersonation among more than 1 billion votes cast from 2000-2014. When those crimes do occur, we should absolutely prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
We shouldn’t eliminate or restrict voting methods because of disappointment in the outcome of an election. If there’s clear evidence that a specific voting practice increases fraud, we should address it. Imposing restrictions without such evidence is little more than voter suppression for losers. Politicians who support such policies are as fraudulent as the practices they loudly rail against.
Cameron Smith is CEO of the Triptych Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit. The Triptych Foundation promotes a virtuous society through investments in socially impactful media and business. He was recently executive director of the Republican Policy Committee in the United States House of Representatives. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published on Al.com – Click HERE to see the original article.