A ‘Statement Of Concern’

The actions of Republican state legislators to curtail absentee voting, limit days for early voting and seize control of local election boards have prompted 188 scholars to sign a “Statement of Concern: The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards.” 

Their words are wise and prophetic …


Statement of Concern

The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards

STATEMENT

June 1, 2021

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.

When democracy breaks down, it typically takes many years, often decades, to reverse the downward spiral. In the process, violence and corruption typically flourish, and talent and wealth flee to more stable countries, undermining national prosperity. It is not just our venerated institutions and norms that are at risk—it is our future national standing, strength, and ability to compete globally.

Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

State legislators supporting these changes have cited the urgency of “electoral integrity” and the need to ensure that elections are secure and free of fraud. But by multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud. The reason that Republican voters have concerns is because many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s own lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges.

In future elections, these laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election. Further, these laws could entrench extended minority rule, violating the basic and longstanding democratic principle that parties that get the most votes should win elections.

Democracy rests on certain elemental institutional and normative conditions. Elections must be neutrally and fairly administered. They must be free of manipulation. Every citizen who is qualified must have an equal right to vote, unhindered by obstruction. And when they lose elections, political parties and their candidates and supporters must be willing to accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. The refusal of prominent Republicans to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, and the anti-democratic laws adopted (or approaching adoption) in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Texas—and under serious consideration in other Republican-controlled states—violate these principles. More profoundly, these actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy. As scholars of democracy, we condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms as a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage.

The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South, so federal law must once again ensure that American citizens’ voting rights do not depend on which party or faction happens to be dominant in their state legislature, and that votes are cast and counted equally, regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which a citizen happens to live. This is widely recognized as a fundamental principle of electoral integrity in democracies around the world.

A new voting rights law (such as that proposed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act) is essential but alone is not enough. True electoral integrity demands a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics.

It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking. Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his “Stop the Steal” crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread.

We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.

Full list of signatories

28 thoughts on “A ‘Statement Of Concern’

  1. Jill, this is excellent. The people that need to see this will just blow it off, as it won’t get reported where it needs to be. And, even then it won’t matter. I just saw a comment that noted the deaths that occurred on January 6 are fake news intent on destroying the former president’s fine career. This is what the truth is up against. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, my friend … those who should read and heed, will not. They will say it is socialist doctrine or some such drivel. I saw the same … that the news reports on January 6th were fake, intended to ruin that person-who-shall-remain-nameless’ career. Well, his career, such as it is, is built on a foundation of lies and cheating, so … what’s left to ruin? What needs to happen is we need to educate the people of this nation … there is far too much ignorance. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Exactly what I said a number of months ago after the states starting talking about restrictive laws. If the feds cannot control the states, there is no United States of America.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There should be a ‘reblog’ button just to the left of the ‘like’ button. If the button isn’t there, then feel free to just copy and paste it into a post of your own, then put a link to my post at the bottom. Or, just put a link to my post and the first paragraph or two. Let me know if you need more help, and … thanks, Nan! I appreciate it!

      Like

  3. Every word a gem, every word the Truth. It’s beyond time for the Dem’s to get down and dirty. Talk to as many Repubs who may be reasonable , promise the they’ll be feted by Democrats everywhere and regarded as heroes as well as true politicians of the people. I accept the Repubs may not regard them so but it would give them their best opportunity to form a third party without Trump’s influence which fed up Republican voters could go to as well as disenchanted Democrats. Use any method including voting out the filibuster to get this done. Neutralise Mitch.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is, indeed, a dire and honest warning with every word the painful truth. It seems so odd to think that the majority of this nation are either Democrats or Independents like myself who lean toward the Democratic point of view, and yet, the nation is fighting an uphill battle for the rights of We the People to even have a voice … a voice that is granted by the Constitution written in 1787. Suddenly We the People who want our government to uphold their oaths, want them to protect our Constitutional rights, We are the enemy. We are Communists, Socialists and worse in the GOP playbook, and yet … they have not bothered to hammer out a policy, an agenda, a platform. Their only policy, such as it is, is to fight against anything and everything the Democrats stand for. If the Democrats want to help homeless, starving kids, then in the eyes of the GOP, that is communism. Sadly, at this moment, I don’t think the Democrats are capable of getting ‘down and dirty’. They are the ones who play fair, who play by the rules, the silent majority as it were. There are maybe 10 people of conscience among the Republican members of Congress, and they are being denigrated by “the Party”. Apparently it is dangerous for a Republican to speak the truth, to deny the ‘Big Lie’, to infuse common sense into legislature. Sadly, I think that by 2040 you will see a much different nation … one ruled by an iron hand, by a man (no real women are allowed in the GOP) whose values are wealth and power, and all the rest of us will have lost our voices, our rights to vote, to even exist outside of what little value our work has. I hope I’m wrong …
      Cwtch

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: A Statement Of Concern | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  5. Absolutely 1000% spot-on. We already know R’s response of the signatories: Radical Socialist Left! Antifa! Liberal Elites! Marxists!!! And on and on. Jill, if the Dems screw this up; if they don’t put the hammer down on this pathetic party, we are doomed. It’s that simple. I’m beginning to think that Chuck Schumer is not the guy who can do this. It’s not the first time I’ve felt that way. But, boy, Mitch McConnell is an evil SOB. You cannot fight these people with words. We need some cut-throat thinking and action here. Do you agree? BTW, I do not think it’s only Manchin and Synema who are not for reforming the filibuster. There are other centrist Dems who just aren’t saying it out loud. I’m beginning to lose patience!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yep, pretty much all the Republicans know how to do these days is call us names, the meanings of which they DO NOT even understand, such as Marxist, Antifascist, Communist, Socialist and more. My fear, partner, is that this nation is consigning itself to a fate, signing its own death warrant. Given the chance, the GOP would sooner burn the Constitution than attempt to adhere to it. I have tremendous respect for Chuck Schumer, but I’m with you … I think that this fight, this fight of a lifetime, needs somebody younger, somebody to bring fresh blood and fresh energy to this fight of a lifetime. I’m with you … probably Manchin and Sinema are not the only two, but they may be the only two who would actively vote against reforming or killing the filibuster. And ordinarily, under normal circumstances, I applaud and support individual members of Congress speaking out against the ‘party line’. But these are anything but normal circumstances and we are literally fighting for the life of a nation here! Sigh. You’re doing better than me if you’re beginning to lose patience, for I lost mine some time ago … I don’t remember quite when, nor do I know where it went, but I’m pretty sure it won’t return and I’ll forever more be known as a grouchy old biddy! Hugs, my dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SIGH. Yes, it’s so hard these days to be positive about anything in this country. Spiraling and spinning out of control. At least we don’t have the moron in office anymore. That’s the one thing I’m so thankful for. I’d be in the damn loony bin if he’d won.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re right … there’s that, and THAT is a biggie … not having an illiterate madman in the Oval is a blessing. But so much else is wrong, so many believe the lies told by the GOP … lies that the congressional republicans themselves don’t even believe, and yet they perpetuate them. Where does it end, my friend? The only end I see is a revolution of some sort … that the Democrats, the liberal-minded who actually care about everyone, finally get fed up to the gills with the b.s. coming from the right and the ignorance of the people, and we blow … explode! We aren’t the ones with all the guns, but we ARE the ones with brains on our sides. Sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m all for it Jill. Dems have never been the fighters that R’s are. And the R’s basically do not give a rat’s ass about anything but power. It’s time to show a little spine don’t you think?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Absolutely. If the Democrats don’t get tough now, if they don’t show a little spine … or perhaps a whole lot of spine, then we are doomed, for the next two years will see ZERO accomplishments by Congress, and possibly the two years after that. And I cannot even begin to think about what’s going to happen in 2024. We must get our voting rights secured one way or the other! Sigh.

              Liked by 1 person

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