Monday, January 21, 2019

Rigging the vote - soon in every state in the Union?

The Wall Street Journal describes how the Democratic Party used a combination of shenanigans to dominate the recent elections in California - and how it's trying to extend the same shenanigans across America.

The GOP wipeout came after the Democrats who dominate Sacramento passed laws aimed at greasing their voting machine. The project started in 2015 when California became the second state after Oregon to move to automatic voter registration.

Can’t be bothered to register? California does it for you, automatically adding to its rolls any person who has any interaction with its Department of Motor Vehicles. The system is already a threat to ballot integrity, with the DMV acknowledging in September it had incorrectly registered 23,000 voters.

In 2016 California passed the Voter’s Choice Act, which allows counties to mail every voter a ballot. Lots of Californians use mail voting, though previously they had to request it. Now ballots arrive automatically, whether voters want one or not. Thirteen million California voters received ballots in the mail last year, compared to about nine million in 2014.

The biggest score for Democrats is a separate 2016 law pushed heavily by unions that legalized what’s known as ballot harvesting. This allows any person—union activists, canvassers, community organizers, campaign staff—to show up at homes and collect mail ballots on behalf of voters.

. . .

This creates opportunities for harvesters to “help” voters complete their ballots, or even pay to finish them, and it’s easy for the unscrupulous to lose ballots they think may go for the wrong candidate. This is why ballot harvesting is illegal in many states, or at least limited to drop-offs by family members.

House Democrats are now moving to impose much of this on the other 49 states. Their For the People Act, or H.R.1, would require all states to adopt automatic voter registration based on names in state and federal agency databases. This means anyone receiving federal food stamps in, say, Ohio, would be automatically registered to vote.

The bill also requires states to allow same-day and online voter registration. It mandates looser rules on provisional ballots, requires every state to provide two weeks of early voting, prohibits restrictions on mail voting, and limits states’ ability to remove voters from rolls. Oh, and it will require that the United States Postal Service deliver ballots for free. Vote harvesting isn’t in H.R.1 but give Democrats time.

All this is an affront to the American tradition of letting states set their own election rules. Few states have automatic registration, on the principle that voting is voluntary. Even liberal Slate magazine, in suggesting that the House bill would “Save American Democracy,” acknowledged that some of the bill might not survive Supreme Court scrutiny.

California has become a one-party state, and Democrats have used their dominance to make it even harder for Republicans to compete. Now they want to use their new House majority to do the same for the rest of America.

There's more at the linkEssential reading, IMHO, for anyone and everyone who cares about our Constitution and democracy in the USA.

The only problem I have with the WSJ article is that it doesn't describe the Republican Party's attempts to rig the vote as well.  Both parties are equally guilty - they've just used different tactics.  Redistricting of constituencies by so-called "gerrymandering" of their boundaries is a very old trick, one that the Republican Party has used in many states to ensure that it gets a higher proportion of the seats in that state than it has voters in the population overall.  It's just as dirty a trick as those described by the WSJ, and deserves to receive just as much criticism.

Trouble is, I don't know how to solve this conundrum.  It's easy to say that there should be a central, national, unified standard for how to arrange constituencies and voting in federal elections;  but the US Constitution leaves such matters to the individual states (Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1).  It would take a Constitutional amendment to change that, and in the present fevered, frenzied state of our national politics, I daresay that's a non-starter.  As for gerrymandering, the Supreme Court has so far failed to act in that regard;  but two cases are due to come before it this year.  One hopes that a reasonable, rational standard may emerge from the legal tussle . . . but there's no telling.  Since both major political parties have employed the tactic, neither will be willing to let it go without a fight.

Let's face it.  Neither Republicans nor Democrats want a level playing field when it comes to elections.  Both parties will seize upon any and every opportunity to win at any cost, regardless of our views or preferences.  As Wendell Phillips warned us in the 19th century (drawing on a perspective that predates his words):

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.

He said that in 1852.  Sounds prescient, doesn't it?



Divemedic said...

That's one way to find out if I am on the secret gun registration database the government claims not to have.

Wayne said...

WSJ paywall

Shell said...

Both parties gerrymander districts, Peter. It's seen by pols as one of the perks of having a majority at any level.

Steffen said...

California opened the polls to ineligible non-citizens and fails to meet federal election standards.

Realistically, all of their "representatives" ought to be forcibly recalled until the voter rolls are fixed and new elections take place.

Anonymous said...

The Federal Election Commission should - but probably never will - decertify national election results from states which have procedures in place making fraudulent voting easy.

Were results from California to be thrown out because of voter fraud the Left would scream bloody murder at the loss of the 55 electoral votes, but that should be a direct result of creating a voting system that not only supports fraudulent voting but seems designed to incorporate it as a standard practice.

Unknown said...

There's a simple solution for gerrymandering.
Voting districts that coincide with county lines.
Too bad the Warren court decided that was "unconstitutional". (Despite being practiced for nearly 200 years by that point.)

Likewise, ballot harvesting is easy to solve. All votes must be registered in person, with identification.