Last week, the Senate Democrats Unveiled A new version of his voting rights law: a pact to win the support of Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus.
The bill is an abridged version of his original For the People Act, omitting the ethics enforcement and some campaign finance-related provisions of the former bill.
But in one area, the new Freedom to Vote Act is stronger and addresses something that the first bill left out: electoral sabotage. The new bill includes several provisions to counteract laws passed in Republican-run states that allow partisan actors to quash elections.
When Democrats first introduced voting rights measures in 2019, fears of genuine attempts at electoral sabotage were not on the radar. The For the People Act included some provisions, such as requiring a paper ballot trail for the voting system and a strong series of custody requirements, but did not. No anticipation of imminent danger. The threat came to light when former President Donald Trump launched a months-long campaign to reverse his 2020 election loss, gathering crowds of supporters on the US Capitol to prevent Congress from declaring Joe Biden the winner on January 6. The raid ended after he was encouraged to speak. .
“The Trump presidency took the voting wars from an exhausting debate on the relative dangers of voter fraud to a new level of the election process compared to voter suppression, increasing the threat of electoral sabotage,” said election law professor Rick Hassan. At the University of California-Irvine, A. writes in new paper Titled “Identifying and reducing the risk of election sabotage and stolen elections in the contemporary United States”.
Trump’s lies and the enduring popularity of the rebellion among the Republican Party’s base prompted GOP-run states to pass new laws that both make it harder for communities to vote, and potentially obstruct elections for Republican partisans. Make it easy to break. These include a law in Georgia that allows partisan takeover of local election boards that have large populations of Democratic voters, and a law in Texas that gives election observers free reign to harass election workers and voters as they harass their voters. cast ballots.
NS freedom to vote act, introduced by Democratic Sense. Amy Klobuchar (Min.), Jeff Merkle (Ore.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Raphael Warnock (Ga.), Alex Padilla (California.), John Tester (Mont.) and Tim Kaine (Va.) and San Angus King (I-Men) contains key provisions to counter such laws and other as yet undetermined attempts to overturn elections.
In addition to mandating that states provide a paper ballot trail for their elections and extending the chain of custody requirements to the electoral system in the original bill, the Freedom to Vote Act was introduced by members of Congress on January 6. provisions are included.
The Preventing Election Subversion Act prohibits the removal of local election officials for reasons such as neglect or malice; Makes it illegal to publicly target election workers and their families through doxing; Mandates distance between election observers, officials and voters; and makes it an offense to interfere with the tabulation, certification and publicity of ballot papers.
The Right to Vote Act creates the first legally enforceable presumption of the right to vote. The bill would require any jurisdiction enforcing election law that imposes a “grave or discriminatory burden” to prove in court that the law is the “least restrictive means” of ensuring the right to vote. All future election laws intended to make voting difficult would require this criterion to be met with verifiable evidence, or to be challenged in court as barriers to the right to vote.
These provisions counteract two of the three threats of electoral sabotage and theft of elections that Hassan identified in his new paper. They include “fraudulent or oppressive election administration or vote counting by law- or norm-breaking election officials” and “violent or disruptive private actions that prevent voting, interfere with the counting of votes, or impede the perception of power”. will provide adequate protection against Actual winning candidate. “
But the threat that hasn’t been addressed is one that Trump actually pursued until January 6: “The usurpation of voter options for the president by state legislatures, to exercise the constitutional right to do so, possibly a Blessed by a partisan-divided Supreme Court and acquitted by Republicans in Congress,” as Hassan puts it.
Trump tried to reverse and reverse his 2020 electoral losses by manipulating the poorly written Electoral Count Act of 1887, which sets the process for how Congress should handle an election where the veracity of the Electoral College results Be surrounded by questions.
As Trump spreads lies about the conduct of the 2020 election ahead of election day, very Publicationshandjob Including , through the Electoral Counts Act, focused on the quasi-legal mechanism by which he could reverse an electoral loss. That strategy involved claiming electoral fraud in the states he lost and getting Republican-run state legislatures or other actors in those states to submit an alternative slate of electoral votes to declare Trump the winner. The theory is that these contesting states would either throw the Electoral College to Trump or require the House to be voted by state to decide who would be president.
It sounds absurd, but that’s exactly what Trump took. a Memorandum written by conservative lawyer John Eastman, former head of the Claremont Institute and a Federalist Society luminaire, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book “Peril” unveils plan drawn up.
Eastman’s proposal called on Vice President Mike Pence to separate votes from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, who presided over the certification of electoral votes—all states where groups of Republicans voted for electoral votes supporting Trump. Competitive slate presented. After all other electoral votes were counted, Pence declared those five states a “failed” election and ruled them. He would then call the election of Trump with 232 electoral votes to Biden’s 222. Pence ultimately decided not to go through with the plan, which prompted the events of January 6.
The National Task Force on Election Crisis, a group of election law and democracy experts called for reform of the Electoral Census Act in January and Made a series of recommendations in August. These include limiting the definition of a “failed” election to natural disasters or any form of catastrophic attack by humans for the purposes of the Electoral College, establishing the vice president’s role entirely as that of minister, and for Congressional objections. Including increasing the limit. things.
The Freedom to Vote Act, if enacted, would go a long way to block attempts at electoral sabotage at the state level that have been fueled by Trump’s attempt to reverse the 2020 election. But the path that Trump pursued through the Abuse of the Electoral Count Act will remain open. No law has been made to rectify this.