Letter to the Editor, Londonderry Times, January 20, 2022:
I’m seeing signs around town in support of the Freedom to Vote Act, the zombie form of HR1 (the “For the People Act”) that was killed in the US Senate last summer. Both bills propose greater federal control of elections and sweeping reforms purported to thwart voter suppression, which proponents see as a major obstacle to free and fair elections in the United States. But how suppressed are American voters, really? Compared to other relatively free nations, not so much.
Take voter ID laws, for example, which 80% of Americans support and Joe Biden disparages as racist. Of the 47 European countries, 46 require voter ID and the 47th has a bill on the topic pending in Parliament. Closer to home, Canada requires two forms of valid ID to cast a ballot. Mexico requires a biometric ID, including photo and thumbprint, and every voter’s thumb is indelibly inked for good measure. In stark contrast, voter ID laws among the fifty united states are spotty and have generally been quite weak.
Mail-in or absentee voting is another area worth comparing. 35 of 47 European countries simply do not allow absentee voting for citizens living in country. Ten do, provided the voter shows up in person with a proper ID to pick up his or her ballot. A few allow notarized proxy voting for citizens with disabilities, or those living outside of the country. They operate this way because to do otherwise, they have learned by experience, facilitates vote-buying and all manner of fraud. On the other hand, in 2020, most US states granted no-excuse mail-in ballot requests, while at least a dozen preemptively mailed ballots to every name on the voter list. Most states established ballot drop boxes and greatly expanded timeframes for receipt and processing of mail-in ballots. Believe it or not, some states reduced or even eliminated witness signature requirements!
There is much we can do to better safeguard the integrity of our elections and, thereby, restore the trust and confidence of the American electorate. Vast majorities of Americans support common-sense measures to ensure one vote per eligible citizen, but the Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act will not accomplish this goal. Rather, it seeks to enshrine and expand no-excuse mail-in voting, early voting and post-election-day counting. It proposes automatic, online and same-day voter registration. It neutralizes any effective local identification requirements under the guise of a national standard. Perhaps most dangerous of all, it federalizes election oversight at the expense of state control and the decentralization that has heretofore protected our elections from systemic abuse.
This week the Democrats in Washington will try their hardest to eliminate the filibuster to pass the Voting Rights Act with a simple majority. For the good of our country and the integrity of future elections, let’s hope they fall short.