If there one lesson I took from the events surrounding Donald Trump, as I understand them, is that so much of the stability of my government (US) since its inception in 1789 has relied on huge doses of good will.
Take, for example, the Electoral Count Act where all it takes is a simple majority vote in each house of Congress to nullify the electoral votes of an entire State, for any reason, or perhaps no reason at all. This Act is probably unconstitutional and may not stand up to Article 3 review, but this is beside the fact of how illustrative it is that the process outlined in this Act is what has been followed in the course of presidential elections since Hayes, around 150 years, without such as a hint of abuse until the perennial loophole abuser Trump showed up.
Lately, I’ve been hearing reports of plans of new voting restrictions being passed, specifically in Georgia, but elsewhere in places with significant GOP majorities. The Governor of Georgia recently answered criticism of the new voting reforms passed in his state, saying that voting in New York is more restrictive than in Georgia.
I must admit that I have not read the new legislation in Georgia, or from anywhere else for that matter. But I do know something about voting in New York, having lived in the state nearly three decades. We do not have open primaries, same day voter registration or party enrollment, or no questions asked absentee ballot requests (except for last year). We got early voting starting in 2016, and at that, there was one early voting polling place in my county. It was located too far away from my vantage point to be considered in existence. I’ve also once had my polling place changed at the last minute to what I recall as a public restroom in a park. We do not get a voter information packet for each election, like I used to get in the mail prior to every election when I lived in California; and thus, informed voting takes a lot research effort in New York.
It’s probably safe to say that New York never caught up with any of the polling innovations adopted by many of the swing states over the last twenty years or so, or anywhere else for that matter. It has changed little in the last 30 years. So, the Governor of Georgia is probably correct in his assessment that New York voting is more restrictive than in his state.
Though, I wouldn’t necessarily hold New York voting processes up as the gold standard of democracy unless, somehow, dinosaurs have a lock on democratic virtue. New York has not evolved in the same way other states have because the status quo is good for the politicians, and not so good for the people. And I think Georgia may be in play because it had come farther in voting innovation and more people were participating in elections there than ever before. It’s a good thing – for the people that have likely been governed against on an ongoing basis.
It’s hard for me to understand why Georgia decided it needed to change its voting laws, and I don’t necessarily have to have read their legislation to be mystified. The secretary of state in Georgia spent an enormous amount of time after the 2020 election discussing its results and explaining how it had held a free and fair election to the people of Georgia and beyond. Yet, now, there is this controversy around new changes to voting that just keeps getting worse. Just tell me, who is going to have their absentee ballot notarized, especially if they are at least temporarily disabled – and why should they have to do that with COVID floating around??
It should not be made illegal to provide water to people waiting in line at a polling place. The need to provide water to those in long lines at a polling place should be negated with more polling places, and electronic voting (virtual polling places).
Yes, you can validate someone’s identity electronically with a uniquely encrypted certificate issued by the state – free of charge – and this is not new technology. Personal certificates have been used on email for at least 20 years. This should be adopted for voting and many other types of government services to seriously reduce the cost of fraud and identity theft in general.
Because it’s not only possible to validate an identity electronically, many other types of transactions are carried out this way on a national scale, like on credit cards with a chip, there is no excuse for the notary requirement that a voter must pay for on paper absentee ballots. The absentee ballot should be electronic also. Heck. Transform physical polling stations into balloting computer cafes of sorts for people who are not connected and make virtual voting the rule rather than the exception for those who wish to vote that way. There no excuse to not do this if validating the identity of the voter is the real driving force behind the new voting reforms. Get off the paper balloting!!
None of the states have done this. They don’t even do it with state aid programs that one can apply for electronically. They sit and watch fraud and identify theft go on and on concerning these, bilking taxpayers of 100’s of millions of dollars each year yet seem to get away with using the cost of electronic identity validation as an excuse to not implement it for anything – not even when they might be concerned about the identity of a voter. And now, it’s apparently okay to not get off paper ballots as much as humanly possible and end up disenfranchising entire swaths of people by placing undue restrictions on absentee balloting and annoying people with too few polling places with no comfort in sight supposedly because of identification concerns. It’s shameful.
PS: I am pretty sure that 2020 was the last time I’ve voted GOP (aside from Trump – I couldn’t stomach him any longer). My small ‘d’ democratic sensibilities have been so deeply offended by Party sanctioned deceit, boldfaced lies, and insidious, corrosive rhetoric carried on with wanton disregard for the health of the republic and the lives lost due to it, that I am convinced that there is no saving the Party that I once called home. I wandered off the reservation several years ago because of the general lack of desire to be faithful to the true meaning of public service within its ranks. Fondness of days past made it hard to fully let go of, and just move on. But I am now ready because there are few things worse than the sorry excuses for human beings that are currently on offer.