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

There Can Be No Compromise On Voting Rights!

Every person 18 years of age or older has the right to vote in the United States.  Per the Fourteenth Amendment, states will lose their congressional representation …

“… When the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime.”

Since 1787 when the Constitution was first amended, we have passed laws to include women “inhabitants” and to lower the legal voting age to 18 instead of 21.

In the Fifteenth Amendment, the right to vote is not to be …

 “… denied or abridged on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

So, what part of this do the legislatures in 43 states not understand?  What part of this do the Republicans in Congress not understand?  They have allegedly read the damn Constitution … with the exception of some like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Greene, who cannot read!  It’s as plain as the noses on their pocky faces!  Everybody over the age of 18 has the right to vote!  Read that again!  Better yet, perhaps Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia needs to read the Constitution before he opens his mouth again!

There are two bills that have passed the House of Representatives and are now awaiting consideration in the Senate.  S1 and S4 are about voting rights.  We should not need new federal laws to give us the right to vote … WE ALREADY HAVE THAT RIGHT!!!  But, sadly, the states, particularly those in the South and those run by Republican governments, are passing bills willy nilly that would rob us of those rights.

Manchin says that any legislation on voting rights must have the support of the Republican senators … WHY???  They aren’t about to support our right to vote because they know damn well, they have even stated, that if everybody can vote, they don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning another election.  They aren’t going to compromise, they want to dominate the discussion, the landscape.  They want only white, Christian male voters, if the truth be known.  They don’t want Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, or really even women voting.  They don’t want college kids voting.  The majority of people in this nation would not vote for a Republican today if they offered … a Krispy Kreme Donut!

The State of Georgia just shoved through demonic voter suppression legislation.  The bill passed both chambers of the legislature in the span of a few hours before Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed it into law yesterday evening.  The new law imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.  WTF???  You’re going to make is such that they will be forced to stand in lines for HOURS to vote, yet they cannot be provided with life-sustaining WATER???  What a bastard!

Voting rights advocates say the state’s rapid-fire action — and plans in other Republican-controlled states to pass restrictions of their own — underscores the need for federal legislation to set a national baseline for voting rules.  In my book, the only ‘rules’ should be that the person be 18 or older.  Nothing else matters!  I may not have two forms of photo ID … in fact, I don’t.  It doesn’t matter!  I pay taxes, I’ve lived here all my life … I have the right to cast my vote.  If I don’t, then I no longer wish to live in this hellhole!  If my Black friends Rob & Aundrea or my Muslim friends Ali & Maha don’t have the right to vote, then why are they bothering to pay taxes to support a government that has robbed them of their voice?

I am fortunate to live in a state where it is relatively easy to vote by mail and where voting laws are not being altered, but for the majority of people in this country, it will be harder to vote in the next election unless S1 & S4 are passed by the Senate.  That is the goal of the Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures around the nation.  Are we going to let them get by with it?  I certainly hope not, for the sake of this nation that has already seen far too many of our rights go down the tubes.

Funny, isn’t it, that the fools on the hill will go ballistic over “protecting gun rights”, but they don’t give a royal f*ck about our voices, our rights to participate in our own government – the one that we fund!!!

Joe Manchin calls for ‘compromise’.  Well, we’ve been compromising for ages now … on healthcare, on education, on wasteful military spending, on foreign affairs, on just about everything.  There is no room for compromise on voting rights … there is no wiggle room at all.  We all get to vote!  Understand that, Republicans???