I do not know Hillary Clinton’s motivation to go big and go long on voting rights, but I suspect it may have had something to do with overshadowing Lincoln Chafee’s call to institute the metric system in the United States. Considering she was speaking to a predominantly African-American audience, it becomes painfully obvious that she engaging in three well-worn Democratic, liberal strategies. The first is playing identity politics by choosing a subject, most likely gleaned from the most recent polling data, then using that towards a targeted audience. Second, the result is nothing short of pandering to that audience. Discussing voting rights before a black audience is like doubling down on Obama’s amnesty executive order in front of a Hispanic crowd (oops! did that already). Third, she is projecting upon the opposition that of which she herself is guilty.
In her speech, she challenged Republicans everywhere and at all levels of government to “stop the fear mongering a phantom epidemic of voter fraud” and asked why the GOP was “so afraid of voters having their say.” No one on the Right is claiming there is a “pandemic” of voter fraud, but the Left is denying the very existence of voter fraud. The problem is in the statistics which would seem to back up Clinton’s claim. However, the Justice Department only counts those cases that led to actual prosecutions. Many times, plea bargains or a prosecutor’s decision not to file charges for whatever reason are not counted. But, because something is not officially counted does not mean it did not occur.
If any party is fear-mongering, it is the Democrats and Clinton by portraying commonsense laws to ensure the integrity of the election process as some kind of Republican grand conspiracy to disenfranchise minority populations. Another perfect example involves voter ID requirements. Georgia and Mississippi, on a percentage basis of total population, have roughly equal African-American populations. Georgia has voter ID; Mississippi does not. Why can’t the Left and Clinton explain why minority voter turnout is greater in Georgia than in Mississippi? The real question is why is the Left so afraid of ensuring the integrity of the election process?
Regarding the Voting Rights Act, I presume she is talking about the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision which invalidated one aspect of one section of that law. Had Congress correctly read the tea leaves and the explicit warning two years previous in an unrelated case, there would have been no Shelby County. That decision spoke to historical fact: it was 2014, not 1965. The affected jurisdictions- mainly Southern states- had drastically changed since the original formula for coverage was devised, and it further changed since the amendments to the original law and its reauthorization. That decision simply instructed Congress to update the formula based on current conditions, not those from 1965. That opinion came down in 2013 and if memory serves me correctly, the Democrats controlled the United States Senate for over a year after that decision and did nothing.
In an apparent attempt to “go bold,” she also called for universal 20-day early voting. In effect, we would no longer have an election day, but an election three weeks. Early voting periods do not necessarily result in increased voter participation. Some studies have shown that only partisan voters who have already have their mind made up because of party affiliation take advantage of early voting. Because there are more registered Democrats than registered Republicans nationally, this suggestion naturally favors the Democratic Party. But it also has the potential to sway elections and voters by reporting on early voting results. What incentive is there for the later voter to cast a ballot? In their mind, the election is already decided. A lot can happen in the final 20 days of a campaign. In 2008, McCain led or was closer to Obama three weeks before Election Day, but the financial crisis changed all that and Obama strode into the White House.
There were other suggestions and the only one I can agree with is reduction in waiting times. If the problem is the number of machines, then perhaps the government should provide the funds to purchase them. There should be no reason to wait over an hour to cast a ballot anywhere. But problems will arise and Clinton and the Democrats need to realize that instead of waiting times somehow fitting into the grand Republican conspiracy to suppress votes, these are inevitable realities that should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of her proposals were universal registration and on-line registration. Note the logical inconsistency here which illustrates her hypocrisy and pandering and floundering. What is the need for on-line registration if everyone is automatically registered as soon as they hit the age of 18? It sounds great and its a good sound bite, but universal registration is going nowhere, so its really a non-issue. As for on-line registration, there is always the problem of fraud in the registration process not to mention the security aspects. In the week she announced this grand plan we were treated to other stories of how possibly Russia and China hacked the personal information of Americans. Some states actually have online registration in place right now. However, statistics indicate that voter participation and turnout is not significantly higher than those states without online registration. Most of the states with online registration had high voter turnout rates prior to this option.
Only near the end of her speech does she acknowledge reality. Election laws are largely the province of the states. Unless she is advocating an unprecedented intrusion of the federal government into the rightful area reserved to the states by the Constitution, her “reforms” would have to occur on a state-by-state basis. It would not be surprising for a liberal Democratic president to attempt a federal take over of state election laws. But in reality, it illustrates that her proposals are hollow pandering- give the audience what they want to hear.
In reality, these suggestions are likely going nowhere and she knows it. But, it sounds great. It plays wonderfully to a minority audience. She continues to portray them as the down-trodden victims of a suppressive Republican conspiracy. Instead of instilling a sense of integrity in the electoral process, she is instilling a sense of paranoia. Is this really what America wants in a leader?