Let’s get one thing straight. Even though Sleepy Joe Biden is the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, there are a host of serious questions about how the elections – note the plural – were conducted. Pennsylvania changed the election laws without constitutional authority, over the objections of the legislature. Ditto for Georgia. Required voter validation on absentee ballots was not performed. Chains of custody were violated, potentially letting phony ballots get counted, and on, and on. We just can’t have this happen again. But what’s a mother to do?
First, we have to define the word. Fuzzy Leftist equivocation won’t do. We must have a clear definition. Anything else will scramble our efforts.
Election: An accurate counting of the expressed preferences of properly eligible and registered voters. Those preferences must be expressed in a clear, legislatively approved manner and received within a specific time frame. They involve issues in and representation for a single state.
That’s not too hard, is it? Obviously, the egregious maleficence exhibited during the last “election” shows that we must have clear guardrails. The most important guardrail is the fact that all elections involve single states or subdivisions within single states. Even the “Presidential Election” is about electing persons from within a single state who are sworn to represent that state in the actual election of the President.
The very first action must be to rigorously cleanse the voter rolls of ineligible persons. A change of address, invalid address, or an underground address should result in that name being removed. Agencies within the state, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, should transmit address changes to the Voter agency. Cooperation between states is essential as well.
Next, Silicon Valley billionaires have no legitimate interest in Georgia Senate elections, yet many millions poured into it from California. And Washington. And… So we must make all political contributions from outside a state illegal. That’s right, outlaw the $100 I sent to David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Only allow registered voters to contribute. Under Citizens United, corporations can speak, so limit their contributions to corporations domiciled in the state. Since Amazon – and Jeff Bezos – are based in Washington State, they should be prevented from meddling in Georgia’s elections. As David Harsanyi notes, “There are provisions [in the Constitution] making it hard for California to pass whatever laws it wishes in West Virginia. That’s not a bug; it’s the point.” It should also be hard for California to elect whomever it wants in Georgia.
Imagine what this would do. Georgia has about 10.6 million people. There are about 5.6 million registered voters, so every voter would have sent about fifty dollars to a campaign to get to the $250 million-plus that was spent on just the senate runoff. In fact, over ninety percent of that came from outside Georgia. As of November 23, Democrats had raised $114 million to the Republicans’ $56 million, or roughly double. But if they had been limited to contributions from Georgians, the Democrats would have had $4.56 million to the Republicans $4.5 million. Georgians would have had a real voice in the debate over who should represent them. Can you spell “level playing field?” May we have a “We took the money out of elections!” cheer?
Next, it is absolutely essential that every legal vote be counted. This starts with verifying that each “vote” is cast by an eligible, registered voter. There has to be a functionally accurate form of voter identification. It must apply to both in-person and absentee voting. Anything else allows an improper vote to cancel a valid vote, destroying the “one-man-one-vote” rule confirmed by the Supreme Court.
Before any votes are counted, firm calendar limits for voting must be established and honored. The Pennsylvania stunt of counting votes arriving three days late cannot happen again. Any “vote” arriving early or late must be rejected. If a voter cannot be responsible enough to read a calendar, then perhaps they aren’t responsible enough to cast a ballot.
Absentee ballots must first pass through the voter ID process. If there is a dispute regarding the validity of the ID, there must be a fair and effective adjudication process before the ballot moves into the counting process.
All ballots must have a secure chain of custody. Those ballots are evidence in any potential election challenge and must be protected by no less careful security than evidence in a criminal case. And just to make this chain even more secure, every ballot image scanned by a vote-counting machine should be made immediately available to every interested party. This will allow those third parties to create their own count of votes. Such an open system would make shenanigans very easy to see. Of course, we must go one step further and require that no electronic counting machine be able to receive data or instructions from outside during the counting process. Ballots must be preserved and indelible records of them maintained.
No questionable ballot should be adjudicated by an electronic device. If the equipment flags a problem, the ballot must be rejected for examination by election officials and parties for the specific campaigns. Only after they agree, or a referee rules, should the ballot be counted. Of note, cameras and remote monitors can make all these verification steps non-intrusive. The record that they produce will be inarguable.
We should note that every step I’ve proposed is absolutely neutral with regard to who wins an election. Rather, these are essential steps to guarantee election integrity. Detailed language can be worked out by legislators, and it’s possible that one state might create a model language for the rest.
Until we have verifiable election integrity, the losing side in almost any election will likely raise loud claims of a stolen election, famously raised in Bush v. Gore as well as the last two presidential contests. Excluding fat cats from out of state will keep campaigns in the control of the voters who are actually interested in who wins. California has no business telling Georgia who to elect.
All of these reforms are possible within individual states. They present no Constitutional conflicts since they follow Article II, SCOTUS precedent, and the basic principle that Georgia’s business is Georgia’s business.