Campaigns/Elections

As With Gun Control, Democrats' Voting Reform Bills Unlikely To Make a Difference

The bills call for reforms that would be nearly impossible to implement and will not prevent a repeat of 2020.

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With the apparent death of talks over President Joe Biden's "Build Back Better" legislation, some Democrats seem poised to pivot to a bill on voting rights.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) indicated earlier this month that even if the "Build Back Better" bill is not passed, he saw a voting rights bill as "a lot more important." And in a letter to Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) expressed that he plans to bring forward a voting rights bill after the holiday, "as soon as the first week back."

But if Democrats hope to counter Republican states' restrictive new voting laws, not to mention prevent a repeat of 2020's certification nightmare, then their current proposals are lacking.

The first voting rights bill congressional Democrats put forward this year was H.R. 1, the "For the People Act of 2021." H.R. 1, which passed the House, includes national standards for automatic voter registration and mail-in voting and promotes statehood for Washington, D.C. There are also provisions to curb gerrymandering by requiring states to set up nonpartisan redistricting commissions, which have seen some success so far in states that have tried them.

But on the actual mechanics of voting, H.R. 1 is lacking. Jessica Huseman, editorial director of Votebeat, wrote in The Daily Beast after the bill passed the House that many of its provisions around voting systems "show remarkably little understanding of the problems the authors apply alarmingly prescriptive solutions to." She writes that some of its contents "are literally impossible to implement," and overall "the bill would make elections less secure by forcing states to rush gargantuan changes on deeply unrealistic time frames."

For example, the law requires every state to implement some form of automatic voter registration by 2023, based on citizens' interactions with state agencies like public health or driver's services. But this timeline does not take into account the sheer magnitude of the task, which would involve streamlining each of those separate agencies' databases such that they could interact smoothly. Additionally, the law mandates that every state purchase very specific voting machines which meet standards that the federal Election Assistance Commission only established earlier this year. The problem with this, as Huseman notes, is that such machines "don't even exist yet," and "won't be in heavy circulation until well into 2025."

Even though supporters of the bill sell it as a solution to restrictive new voting laws in Republican-led states (or to lawmakers simply overturning electoral outcomes themselves), Vox notes that much of the bill would be relatively ineffective. Further, it was largely drafted before January 6, casting doubt on how it might address post-election challenges like those of former President Donald Trump. Since the passage of H.R. 1, Democrats have shifted their focus to a different bill, the "Freedom to Vote Act," though this bill would also be significantly narrower in scope than the For the People Act as a compromise to Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Unfortunately, the impulse to simply "just do something" in the face of a problem is not new. It isn't uncommon that mass shootings spur lawmakers to suddenly call for new gun control measures. In response to last month's school shooting in Michigan, many gun control advocacy groups have expressed disappointment at Biden's lack of progress on the issue of gun control.

But the results of the "just do something" approach on gun control laws should speak for themselves: Earlier this year, California's ban on assault weapons was struck down by a U.S. district court judge, citing the Supreme Court's ruling in 2008's D.C. v. Heller. The law's content was similar to the federal assault weapon ban which expired in 2004, but which many Democrats, including the president, wish to revive. In addition to the constitutional issues, the law's definition of an "assault weapon" was nearly entirely superficial: Features such as a pistol grip or folding stock were enough to earn the title, despite having little or no bearing on the weapon's use.

If the intent is to prevent mass shootings, then assault weapons bans would be little help, though they would certainly make legal gun ownership more difficult. Similarly, new voting rights laws as proposed this year by Democrats would impose undue burdens on the states and localities tasked with enforcing them, while having little or no effect on the actual issues for which they were intended.

NEXT: America’s Divisions May Have Passed the Tipping Point

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  1. It will make it worse.

    1. Feature.

  2. I refuse to obligate myself to any democratic system that isn’t transparent: make all ballots a public record, so that everyone can know that their vote was tallied correctly, and everyone can validate the outcome together.

    If not, go fuck yourself with your “democracy.”

    1. I have issues with all votes being a public record. It does set up the system to exploit and manipulate. Imagine people afraid of being shunned by their neighbors and friends for supporting the wrong candidate. Imagine union bosses forcing the union to all vote a certain way. Imagine a sheriff punishing a deputy who voted against them.

      Private ballots are important, but there does need to be accountability with audits. There should be no barriers or no resistance to auditing a vote under any circumstance, and then openly addressing all the issues that may be found in an audit.

      1. I won’t trust any election system where people cannot validate that their vote has been entered correctly, and that every vote is valid.

        As an alternative, I will gladly accept a very limited government that allows others to voluntary make arrangements for the rest.

        Otherwise, I don’t consider myself obligated to go along.

        1. I dont know why we couldn't have an anonymous hash system where it is given out when you register to check status and vote image. Then again, leftists have been known to release government data to dox/attack those they disagree with.

        2. All existing voting systems allow you to validate your own vote before or as you make your selection. If printed ballots, you can look at the boxes you checked. If voting machines, you can look at the levers you set. Therefore you are presumably concerned with validating the chain of record from your ballot to the final result.

          Please describe this hypothetical election system where you can validate that your vote has been entered correctly at every step in the process. That was never possible in the traditional world of paper ballots. It's not even possible for commercial transactions like credit cards. You have to take an astonishing amount on faith from the merchants, credit card companies and banks. So what is this magical system that solves the problem you allege?

          1. Both arizona and Georgia has thousands of double voters. A percentage of those was likely falsified mail in ballots from people registered but didn't vote often. The was also recorded in many other states.

            How does the apathetic voter validate their ballots when they generally do not care?

          2. If you want me to be obligated to obey these commands, then it’s on you to prove to me it’s valid.

            I simply don’t accept “it’s not possible for us to prove it so you have to shut up and obey.” It’s not good enough for me.

            Now, go prove government can do amazing things markets can’t do and make it happen.

          3. In my state, the voting machines tabulate the paper “fill in the bubble” ballot sheets.

            Once you’ve filled in the ballot and insert it into the machine, the screen says “than you for voting,” and that’s it.

            You don’t get a receipt, there’s no proof your choices were added to the totals, nothing.

            You take it on faith that the team of democrats and republicans will secure the ballots at the end of the night and one person will take the machine’s USB stick with tabulated counts to Election HQ.

            That’s it. It comes down to faith.

            Fucked up system.

            1. It is more than faith. There are rules and procedures that have to be followed that check for irregularities. Two things insure a secure and safe election. First many hundreds of people are involved, and such a large number of people prevents cheating as too many people would know. Second is counts. Counts are made of the ballots given out, ballots voted, and machine counts. and these numbers must match. There is a lot more than faith going on in voting.

    2. That would allow people to verify their vote was counted and correct. It won't do much to detect fake votes unless someone validates every single reported voter and address.

  3. It's really tipping their hand by adding a provision to make DC into a state into a voting rights bill.

  4. "The bills call for reforms that would be nearly impossible to implement and will not prevent a repeat of 2020."

    "Similarly, new voting rights laws as proposed this year by Democrats would impose undue burdens on the states and localities tasked with enforcing them, while having little or no effect on the actual issues for which they were intended."

    Joe - Do you really believe the Democrats want to fix "issues" with the 2020 elections? The Dems caused the problems! They got the outcome they wanted! Nevermind the integrity of our voting system. The Dems want to take the illegal policies from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc; and force them everywhere to help their party. This has NOTHING to do with making sure everybody gets a vote.

    Do you honestly believe that Joe Fucking Biden got 10 million more votes than Obama? If yes, you are willfully obtuse.

    Hundreds of thousands of votes coming in, after hours, that favored Joe Biden at 96-97% clip; with not audit trail!?! Then the Dems fighting tooth and nail to thwart any legal audit attempts. Yeah, no fraud my ass.

    1. Your lies are stale. Find new ones.

      1. You talkin' to yerself in the mirror again, Molly?

      2. Best example of pot calling kettle black of 2021.

  5. What problem is the voting reform bill attempting to address? That voting is too goddamn complicated what with the requirements to prove that you actually exist, that you are who you say you are, that you're eligible to vote, that you're eligible to vote in the precinct you're attempting to vote from, and that you haven't already voted? What is your solution to this problem? Make the voting eligibility checks the same as the checks for visiting porn sites where you have to click a button swearing that you're over 18? Yeah, there's no way anybody might abuse that rigorous system.

    1. The problem that people aren't electing enough Democrats to Congress, duh. That's why this bill is also trying to make DC into a state, to get 2 more Senators and an extra representative.

      1. If DC becomes a state, then Texas ought to exercise its option to split into five states, and then California could split into North, Central, and South California.
        After the dust settles, we'd be living in really interesting times.

        Hint, boys and girls, Trump (registered Democrat, Independent, Reform, Republican) was actually elected 2016 as the None-Of-The-Above candidate by people fed up with the national Democrat and Republican parties. The 30% ardent jackasses and 30% ardent rhinoceroses need to wake up to the fact they don't represent the rest of Americans, and the more they polarize the less relevant they become. They are only powerful in their own minds.

  6. For example, the law requires every state to implement some form of automatic voter registration by 2023, based on citizens' interactions with state agencies like public health or driver's services.

    What about people who don't want to be registered to vote?

  7. Are there any Democrats who sincerely think election reform is about ensuring voters are not excluded from casting legitimate votes, rather than to make it easier to cheat?

    1. The ultimate goal is mandatory voting. This will keep Democrats in permanent power because many who currently don't vote would choose based upon what their favorite celebrity says, or who promises the most free shit.

      1. There's no such thing as the most free shit. You can always promise more. Infinity + 1.

        1. More as in more than the other guy.

          1. One way to stop that is to keep attacking the people that actually call for a reduction in spending. That is working out well for you.

    2. If not, then who are they trying to convince?

      1. They're playing to their own constituencies--and the donors.

        I strongly suspect Schumer is pushing for a real vote on BBB for similar reasons. Yeah, that would hurt moderate Democrats in the upcoming and threaten Democrat control of the Senate--but Schumer is afraid of being challenged in the upcoming primaries by AOC--who's a progressive darling among his own supporters (and donors).

        The donors are into this narrative about the Capitol Riot and the need to save America from the populist Trumpian menace, and it's the season to give ahead of the 2022 primaries.

    3. I just wrote more or less the same thing.

      Taking the progressives' narrative about this seriously is ridiculous.

      Readers assuming the author is gas lighting is giving him the benefit of the doubt--because assuming someone is genuinely that naive would be more offensive.

      Somebody tell him, I've got some waterfront property in Florida I'm selling on the cheap!

    4. Yes. Of course. The narrative of Ds cheating is bull and an excuse the far right are using to eliminate meaning elections.

      1. So why are Democrats so concerned that voters may need to present ID to vote? Who doesn't have ID?

      2. If the LieCheatSteal party doesn't cheat, why are they the ones that always oppose efforts to make cheating harder?

    5. Are there any Democrats who sincerely think election reform is about ensuring voters are not excluded from casting legitimate votes, rather than to make it easier to cheat?

      Sure. People like MollyGodiva really believe the ridiculous nonsense they're repeating.

      1. "People like MollyGodiva really believe the ridiculous nonsense they're repeating."

        You misspelled "projecting".

  8. "The bills call for reforms that would be nearly impossible to implement and will not prevent a repeat of 2020."

    The Democrats won the presidency in 2020! Who else thinks that the Democrats care about preventing a repeat of 2020?

    They're trying to stack the deck in favor of themselves--like they did with the excuse of Covid in 2020. How naive can you be?!

  9. The bill is not perfect, but it is good enough. It is our last chance to prevent having a permanent Republican minority rule. The Rs are actively eliminating the concept of meaningful elections from our country. And from the other commentators I see many who will cheer the downfall of American representative government.

    1. Hopefully it really is the last chance. We tire of having to deal with your progressive bullshit.

    2. You'd sell dog shit as chocolate ice cream if the progressives were in favor of eating it.

      1. If someone wants to buy dog shit from me, I'm willing to sell it 🙂

        1. Sqrsly is interested.

    3. So you want rule changes and reduction of vote integrity solely for political reasons. And you say you're a moderate.

      1. All I want is free and fair elections

        1. the fuck you do.

        2. All I want is for leftists like you to be mostly peacefully protested.

        3. There was NOTHING free and fair about 2020.
          The fact that some of the people on your side admitted as much and 30% of your party agree that there was cheating should be enough of a clue.
          This attempted federal takeover of elections, purely in your party's favor, will guarantee there will never again be a free and fair election.

          1. There is nothing in the voting bill that favors any party, that is the point.

    4. I truly don't know which one of my lines to use in response, so I'll throw out a few of them:

      Get up off of your damn knees.
      You'll make a good slave.
      Did you fly direct from Stupidville, or did you have to change planes in Chicago?

    5. "The bill is not perfect, but it is good enough. It is our last chance to prevent having a permanent Republican minority rule. "

      The wrong side keeps winning, we have to change the rules!

      1. It is about the simple concept that the side with the most votes wins in a free and fair election. And somehow that offends Republicans

        1. Read the Constitution. It has something to say about how Presidents are elected.

          1. You mean the part where the VP can choose not to count the votes from states that did not vote for their preferred candidate?

            Also this is much bigger the Presidential elections. And also the Rs will soon game the EC votes to make sure they win a state even if they got less votes in that state.

            1. Wait.
              What?
              Which party is trying to have states scheme with each other, that their EC votes won't go to the one, who gets the most votes in that state, but to the one who wins the nationwide popularity contest, or more accurately, the candidate who gets the most big city votes, contrary to what the Constitution mandates.
              I'll give you a clue; the states that have signed on to it are all leftist dominated.

        2. Assuming the votes were actually cast by eligible voters, and not harvested.

        3. Yes, the side with the most pitch forks and torches wins in mob rule, just don't call it democracy.

        4. "It is about the simple concept that the side with the most votes wins in a free and fair election. And somehow that offends Republicans"

          It should offend anyone who's familiar with the Constitution and the way our presidential elections work, your lack of comprehension notwithstanding.

          The US is emphatically not a democracy, it's a constitutional republic. The 17th Amendment unfortunately mucked with what the Senate was supposed to be, mucking with it further will drag us closer to mob rule. The Electoral College was also designed to keep us from spinning down that hole.

          And spare me the "free and fair elections" nonsense. The US is one of the only developed nations without robust voter ID laws.

    6. If the gov't you are pushing is made up of only the politicians you like, then it is not representative, you dim sad feebleminded twit.

  10. There's no reason to go so far as bothering to read and analyze any of these vote bills until they've gotten ten Republican co-sponsors, because Manchin still isn't going to vote to murder the filibuster for general legislation.

    (And the "we'll only kill the filibuster for voting laws" dodge is as phony as your boyfriend's promise he'll pull out. If Democrats ram through an exception to the filibuster on a party-line vote, the Republicans next time will make their own. As was just demonstrated to anyone with a higher-than-room-temperature-IQ [so, no, not you, Molly] when the Democrats killing the filibuster for presidential nominations with a phony "except for the Supreme Court" exception, followed by the Republicans killing it to ram through three Supreme Court Justices under Trump.)

    1. Yes this would permanently kill the filibuster and likely lead to Rs passing some nasty stuff. But it is better then the alternative, which is the downfall of American democracy.
      And the Ds killed the filibuster for federal judges, not SCOTUS. And if they did not Mitch would have killed it for SCOTUS anyhow.

      1. Yes this would permanently kill the filibuster and likely lead to Rs passing some nasty stuff. But it is better then the alternative, which is the downfall of American democracy.

        So, you think the way to preserve American democracy against red state "voter suppression" laws is to enable a future Republican trifecta (like the one that existed just three years ago) to pass national "voter suppression" laws on a party-line vote?

        There's a reason I pointed out you're an idiot, and that sort of logic is exactly why.

        The power of Congress to freely alter regulations on the "times, places, and manners" of elections clearly would allow them to ban mail-in voting [manner], early voting [times], and pretty much all the other things in the Georgia "voter suppression" law. Even if a "voting only" filibuster didn't blow up the filibuster entirely, it should be blatantly obvious that destroying the procedural hurdles in the path of passing nationwide-effect voting laws with narrow majorities is fucking stupid if you actually think the other side is trying to destroy democracy.

        (On the other hand, if your goal is to destroy democracy, blowing up the procedural hurdles in the way of passing national voting laws on a party-line vote is exactly what you'd do, so you don't have to worry about holdout states. So when you observe the fact that conservatives have not tried to make it possible to pass national voting laws on a party-line vote, while progressives are trying to do exactly that, well.)

        And the Ds killed the filibuster for federal judges, not SCOTUS.

        Yes, Molly, that's literally what I said. There's another reason I pointed out you're an idiot, and that kind of blatant failure of reading comprehension is why.

        And if they did not Mitch would have killed it for SCOTUS anyhow.

        He might have tried, but had the filibuster for other federal appointments not previously been nuked, it's entirely possible that, say, Murkowski and Collins would have said no to the nuclear option. But the idiot Senate Democrats in 2013 made damn sure there was no principle anyone could appeal to when McConnell decided to nuke it for SCOTUS.

        1. It isn't very bright -to engage it, one should expect that it cannot comprehend anything but the in-group biases, narratives, and talking points pushed via the media. Anything else will be rejected as sacrilege.

    2. Did the Republicans kill it for SCOTUS or did they just use Reid killing it for federal judges to fill all those spots Obama was too stupid/lazy to fill?

      1. Republicans nuked it for SCOTUS in early April 2017, after the Democrats filibustered Gorsuch.

  11. Unless voting rights are somehow restricted to net tax payers, there is no chance for a "democracy" not to turn into a populist kleptocracy.

    No representation without taxation!

    1. Populist?
      No.
      Feudal.

  12. Democrats aren't trying to "prevent" a repeat of 2020, they're trying to ensure it.

  13. 80% of voters support photo ID requirements for voting.

    And that’s how you know democrats don’t give a damn about democracy.

  14. The reality is we don't need a large bill larded up every idea imaginable. What is needed is a simple statement that the votes of the people must be certified and counted. Vote counts cannot be thrown out because someone does not like the results. The law should state that the vote count is presumed correct and that those challenging a vote count must provide evidence that the count is incorrect.

  15. I keep reading about the restrictive measures, but the specifics that get highlighted don't sound too restrictive to me. I 'd like to see someone compare voting rules across all 50 states and quantify the effect on voters.

    1. I had this argument over the holidays with my very liberal Dad. How can you take seriously someone from Delaware complaining that Texas is restricting voting by removing the 24-hour early voting that happened one night in one county of the entire 254 counties in the state when Delaware doesn't even have early voting?

  16. Democrats push for more criminal behavior....

    Is that suppose to be news?

  17. What matters is not whether voting is secure and transparent, but whether the majority of the people continue to thrust that it is. It is like the currency. It has value only as long as well all agree that it does.

    In my state, it is illegal for poll workers to ask for identification or to check signatures. As long as you claim to be one of the people on the list of eligible voters that they publish, you get to vote.
    The state even helpfully publishes which elections registered voters have voted in, to make it easier to avoid the embarrassment of being told that you have already voted.

    The "voting rights" bill would just make it easier to cheat, to the point where it would be pretty obvious to most people. In a system like that, the winner will always be the candidate with the largest and best voter fraud organization.
    Once everyone starts to realize that such a system is in place, nobody will believe that they are electing representatives. Because they will not be doing so. They will participate in a voting performance, and rulers will be selected for them.

    The thing they are doing now, by just repeating as dogma the claim that our elections are perfectly fair, is not going to work forever. They might even, by threats of shaming or retaliation, to get almost everyone to claim that they believe it. But they won't really believe. We are doing the same thing with biological sex these days. Nobody really believes the guy wearing the dress is actually a woman, or that the lady with the beard who gave birth is really a man. Because nobody actually believes the narrative, it cannot last.

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