We should really give credit where it’s due. The Democrats in both chambers of Congress hold majorities so slender that any “big moves” they may want to make can be shut down by as little as one defection among their ranks. That’s not stopping them from drafting huge, sweeping proposals, however. There are two more gigantic legislative packages on the way once the COVID relief bill is wrapped up. One is a rather vaguely described “ethics” bill, but the other is far more ambitious, not to mention being constitutionally dubious. They’ve cooked up a nearly 800-page bill that would reshape the way people vote across the entire nation. And if you think it involves anything about improving election integrity after the debacle of 2020, well… you don’t know the Democrats very well. (Associated Press)
As Congress begins debate this week on sweeping voting and ethics legislation, Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing: If signed into law, it would usher in the biggest overhaul of U.S. elections law in at least a generation.
House Resolution 1, Democrats’ 791-page bill, would touch virtually every aspect of the electoral process — striking down hurdles to voting erected in the name of election security, curbing partisan gerrymandering and curtailing the influence of big money in politics.
Republicans see those very measures as threats that would both limit the power of states to conduct elections and ultimately benefit Democrats, notably with higher turnout among minority voters.
Democrats love to label their efforts in this area as ways to “make it easier for people to vote.” A more honest description would be to say they would like to make it easier for people to vote even if they’re not supposed to be voting.
The linked article from the Associated Press is stuffed to the gills with the usual liberal tropes about how Republicans are always trying to suppress minority voting and “rig the system.” The Democrats’ bill is being described as a path to expand “access to the ballot.” What’s not mentioned is precisely who is having all this trouble getting ballot access, but we’ll circle back to that in a moment, to borrow a phrase from Jen Psaki.
Among the changes being proposed would be mandatory early voting and same-day registration in all states. The bill would also either restrict or eliminate voter ID requirements. On that latter point, I would remind anyone considering supporting this bill that the recently decided congressional race in New York’s 22nd District came down to a difference of barely 100 votes and a minimum of three of them were cast by dead people. But hey… don’t let that bother you. We wouldn’t want to pester people about their actual identity because that would obviously be racist or something.
As to the other changes regarding when voting starts and how registrations are handled, the courts have long upheld the rights of the states to make their own rules within a given set of guidelines. Passing some sort of one-size-fits-all set of mandates as to how such rules are enacted flies in the face of states’ rights. In order to justify imposing a federal mandate that the states change their voting rules, the federal government needs to be able to prove that someone is actually being harmed by the existing rules.
That brings us back to the entire question of ballot access. How do congressional Democrats plan to explain why people are being denied the chance to vote only months after an election that saw record-breaking turnout, particularly among minority voters and women? And not for nothing, but it’s also an election that they won. It doesn’t seem as if people are having all that much trouble getting their ballots submitted. In fact, one guy in Texas managed to submit 134 of them last year. Another guy in California nearly got away with casting more than 8,000 votes. (And those were just the people we managed to catch.)
The bottom line is that the Democrats see an opportunity to flood the zone here and a little thing like trampling on states’ rights or making elections even less secure isn’t going to slow them down. If they really wanted to draft a voting reform bill that would attract bipartisan support they should consider a law requiring all states to clean up their voter rolls and maintain them going forward. I’d be all in favor of appropriating some funds to help the states do that. But I guess that’s just crazy talk, right?