Trump’s election litigation will have lasting effects

Congress has stepped in to help voters too. In 1964, it passed the federal Civil Rights Act, giving legislative heft to constitutional amendments aimed at ensuring that all men and women age 21 and older—despite race or color—have the right to vote. In 1965, it passed the federal Voting Rights Act, which suspended literacy tests and authorized the Department of Justice to oversee changes in election laws in states with a history of discrimination in voting (a provision that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013). Other laws of the past 40 years, such as the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002, sought, in one way or another, to expand and secure the franchise.

Notice the theme here: increasing access to the ballot through the Constitution, Congress, and the courts. The Trump campaign has turned that trajectory—rather tragically—on its head.

Here’s the good news: When faced with unprecedented attempts to obliterate legitimate votes on shaky technical grounds, courts have refused to budge. The most stinging rebuke to the Trump strategy came the day after Thanksgiving. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Donald Trump for President, et al. v. Secretary Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al. summarized the lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s argument as a complaint “that Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State and some counties restricted poll watchers and let voters fix technical defects in their mail-in ballots … nothing more.”