Electoral Reform, Part 5- A Little Transparency Goes A Long Way

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on 9/11, the surveillance state was born.  We were reassured that one’s civil liberties were being protected and that the new laws were enacted to make Americans safe from a future attack of this nature.  One argument was that if you had nothing to hide, there was nothing to fear.

In a representative democracy such as that which exists in the United States, the ultimate civil right is having one’s voice heard through the electoral process.  Yet, as we witnessed in 2020, the counting of votes and the shifting and inconsistently applied rules across the states and even within states, was anything but transparent.  If there is nothing to fear about the counting of votes, especially the mail-in ballots and/or late-arriving ones, then there should be nothing to hide.

Three states inexplicably ceased counting votes in the middle of the night after which seemingly large Trump advantages seemed to vanish once the counting started again.  One understands that the large number of mail in ballots had to be certified, validated, and counted.  What one does not understand is why many states failed to prepare for this.  Throughout the summer we were inundated with stories of how Trump was going to “steal” the election because the US Postal Service was replacing mailboxes.  

Regardless, perhaps state or county election officials in Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania never heard of the concept of shift work.  In other words, you count the ballots continuously with no interruptions until all are counted.

To rectify the problem, it is suggested that representatives from both parties be present when votes are counted, inspected, tabulated and reported and that there be 100% agreement before reporting actual figures.  Further, the federal government can play a role by having observers in particularly troublesome areas.  After the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted, several states were strictly monitored for compliance.

We need a Voting Integrity Act passed that will unleash a phalanx of observers into jurisdictions that show a pattern of fraud.  With the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the power of DOJ observers was unleashed on Southern states to make sure things were on the up-and-up and no one’s right to vote was being violated.  The same philosophy can be applied here.  It is obvious that the main violators of electoral shenanigans occur in major cities and their collar counties.  Everywhere the specter of electoral fraud appears, it is a major city- Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Detroit etc.  Ballot harvesting cost many Republican House candidates a victory in California in 2018.  

It is not even hard to discern where the problems lie.  They are not going to occur in some low-population county in Georgia or Texas.  Statistical anomalies are one clue to where it occurs and where federal monitors would be sent.  If voter turnout exceeds voter registration, then that is one clue.  Steep deviations from historical norms are another clue.

Looking back at presidential election results based on Congressional districts (and their equivalents over time due to reapportionment), voter preferences do shift.  Because, for example, Luzerne County in Pennsylvania was a strong blue outpost in 1968 is no guarantee it will be in 2020, and it wasn’t.  These changes, however, do not occur overnight which, in political terms, is in a Presidential cycle, but gradually over time.  One can see the trend in these places where the shift from red to blue or vice versa is gradual.  Sudden shifts, such as Candidate A winning by 6% one year and losing by 12% four years later is due to one of two things: the candidate really sucked (think: Jimmy Carter), or something else is going on (vote manipulation).

At the very least, just as federal election observers guaranteed the right to vote to blacks under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, federal election observers overseeing electoral processes and counts in designated hot spots of potential fraud could possibly restore some faith in the entire system.  Provided the rules as established by the states are followed, certified by partisan and nonpartisan observers, and federal officials, then some faith in the process- shattered in 2020- can be restored.  As the fraud is demonstrably reduced, federal oversight can likewise be reduced.  This was done in the context of minority voting rights with federal legislation and there is no reason it cannot be done in this context.

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