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June 14, 2021

Closing the Barn Door – Changes in Voting Laws [Dave in Fla]

These bills are an unmistakable response to the unfounded and dangerous lies about fraud that followed the 2020 election.
-- The Brennan Center

Let’s get it out on the table from the start. Donald Trump won the 2020 election.

Election fraud in Atlanta, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Milwaukee allowed a historic turnout and electoral victory to be stolen from Trump. I’m not going to spend time in this post proving this or explaining the evidence (though I may do such a post, if there is interest).

What I want to talk about is the response to the election in the state legislatures.

I know, I know. What is the point? The Democrats stole an election and at least 3 Senate seats, they proved they can do it, with the willing assistance of Republicans at both the federal and state levels. They will just do it again in 2022, and 2024, and on and on for what is left of our Republic.

It’s a good question.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that our political philosophy is the majority opinion of this country and the majority in enough states to deliver over 300 Electoral Votes. The future depends a great deal on whether or not the populations of individual states will enforce their political will on their states and demand fair elections.

So let’s pretend that voting still matters.


In the aftermath of 2020 twenty-eight states have introduced legislation to put additional restrictions on voting mechanisms. Now, not all of these are going to become law. Bills introduced in New Jersey and Washington are unlikely to become law because of Democrat opposition. But there is considerable activity in many of the Battleground states to address the mess from 2020 and to ensure elections in those states are fair going forward.

The legislative remedies run a wide gamut, including limitations on vote by mail, restrictions on automatic absentee ballot mailing, ballot harvesting, voter ID, stricter signature requirements, ballot return restrictions, poll watcher access, and voter roll purging. Let’s take a closer look at what is going on in six states, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.

Arizona

These proposals are a concerted effort from those in Arizona — and across the nation — who wish to sow additional doubts about our elections in the minds of voters, and feed into the paranoia that has plagued our political discourse over the past several months"
-- Michael Bidwell, Arizona Cardinals President

Of course the big news out of Arizona is the ongoing audit. In the reporting on the audit you can see how the MSM manages to keep a lid on information. They flood the internet with the same story, all about how insane it is to question the legitimacy of the Arizona vote.

Arizona’s problem plagued audit”
-- CNN
Arizona Republicans flock to fringe conservative media
-- The Hill
Arizona 2020 election Review: Risks for Republicans
-- NY Times
Republicans push to export absurd Arizona style election audits
-- Huffington Post

Finding factual information on the audit is difficult, and the media frenzy over the situation is very much a “Lady doth protest too much” moment. There is also a concerted effort to discredit whatever results are announced with words like “flawed” “troubled” and “partisan” used liberally in all reporting. Also of note, representatives from both Georgia and Pennsylvania have visited Arizona to learn about the process being used.

Outside of the audit, there was one piece of legislation passed. Michael Bidwell’s overwrought response above is to a pretty benign change that was signed into law on April 15, 2021. Arizona has eliminated the Permanent Early Voting List where ballots are sent automatically to voters in every election they are eligible to vote. The new law removes voters from the list if they do not use their ballot for two election cycles. This change has been derided everywhere as “VOTER SUPPRESSION” (apparently a nationwide theme). I have to wonder how many votes Democrats receive legitimately, if a minor change like this amps their rhetoric up to eleventy.

If the audit results in evidence that the Arizona election result were wrong, then expect additional legislation to be introduced. A number of lawmakers have said that they are waiting to see those results.

Florida

If you can’t cast your ballot, or others make it more difficult for you to be able to do, they’re basically impeding your freedom and your voice.
-- Charlie Crist, former Florida Governor, loser, and opportunist

After running the cleanest and smoothest election in the nation, you would think that Florida would sit back and rest on its laurels. You would be wrong. On May 6, 2021, Ron DeSantis signed SB90 into law which took effect immediately. The new law establishes restrictions in areas that are ripe for fraud. Mail-in ballot requests can no longer be requested for more than one general election. Requests for a mail-in ballot must include identifying information, such as driver’s license number or the last four digits of the SSN. Possession of more than 2 ballots in addition to your own is illegal, with very specific exceptions for family members and nursing home voting, in order to crack down on ballot harvesting. New restrictions on ballot drop boxes including expanding the ban on political electioneering to include drop box locations. One lesser noticed provision of the bill is the prohibition of any private entity from funding an election related expense. This provision targets leftist organizations from coming into blue areas and paying to “help” the election, thereby giving those counties an advantage.

With no viable rationale for being elected to replace Ron DeSantis, both Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried have latched onto voter suppression as the cornerstone of their campaigns. Democrat front groups have also quickly filed lawsuits challenging SB90 as unconstitutional.

Texas

The bill would also make it easier to overturn an election, allowing courts to throw out results if enough ballots were cast illegally that it could have made a difference -- despite the fact that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas or any other US state.
-- Paul LeBlanc, CNN

In Texas a bill to change election law has passed both chambers, but the Democrats staged a walkout to prevent a quorum from voting on the bill. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure the state of the bill. Governor Abbott is expected to call a special session of the legislature to allow the bill to be voted on shortly. The key provisions of the bill are targeting mail-in ballots and voting procedures that can be exploited:

1) Ban afterhours voting
2) Restrict hours for early voting
3) Prohibit dropboxes and drive through voting
4) Ban sending mail-in vote applications to voters who did not request one
5) Bar counties from helping facilitate distribution of unsolicited ballot requests
6) Require driver’s license number or SSN for both mail-in ballot request and the returned ballot
7) Fines for election officials who do not update voter rolls
8) Criminal penalties for election workers who obstruct poll watchers

Georgia

Democrats and voting rights groups were outraged by voter ID provisions and changes to mail voting that they believe will make more difficult for some minorities and poorer voters to cast a ballot.
-- CBS News

Ah Georgia, the epicenter of voting controversy. Not only was Georgia outright stolen from Trump, two Senate seats were also stolen. This was done with the active participation of the Republican Secretary of State and the benign indifference of Governor Brian Kemp. However, the Georgia legislature immediately turned around and passed new voting laws, which were signed by Kemp in April, despite the active opposition of the likes of Coca Cola, Delta, and Major League Baseball.

The new law in Georgia makes the following major changes to election law:

1) Expanded early voting in rural counties – bringing them on par with early voting opportunities in the metro areas
2) ID requirements for mail-in voting – the returned ballot must include a driver’s license number or a state ID number. This is identical to the requirement for in-person voting.
3) Drop box regulation – limits to the number of dropboxes, requirements for security of the dropboxes, and limits on when they can be used.
4) Prohibits mailing unsolicited ballots – to get a mail-in ballot you must request one.
5) Prohibits food and drink service to people in poll lines – apparently this was a thing.
6) Removes power from the Secretary of State – election board is now chaired by the SOS, but the SOS does not have a vote. The election board has new powers over local election officials including removal.
7) Reporting requirements – many changes here, but most importantly the total number of votes cast including election day, early voting and mail-in votes must be posted by 10 PM on election day. No more suddenly finding 20,000 votes at 3AM.
8) Fraud hotline – a hotline must be established for reporting voter intimidation or illegal activity. Also legislatively states that unlimited challenges can be made to a voter’s qualifications to cast a ballot. This addresses the courts that blocked True the Vote’s efforts to challenge to 360,000 voter’s eligibility during the runoff.

New Hampshire

The bill is blatantly unconstitutional...it would create a logistical nightmare for state elections
-- Paul Bergeron, (D) NH House of Representatives

I wanted to talk a little about the changes in New Hampshire. These aren’t sweeping changes such as those in Georgia, but they illustrate that even in blue New England, the states are concerned about election integrity. A bill just passed the legislature and is heading to the Governor for signature. The major changes are requiring a photo be taken of anyone registering to vote without a photo ID and giving political parties access to absentee ballot requests.

While the changes sound pretty benign, and did have bipartisan support, the major controversy was an amendment that passed the House 202-175. This amendment pushes back on the For the People Act stating the New Hampshire will not comply with national election requirements when conducting state and local elections.

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania a more measured approach is being taken. Personally, I think this is due to the political realities. There are enough votes to pass any legislation, but they have to get the Governor to sign the bill. More bills were submitted in this state than any other, 14 bills. But they were all tabled and routed to the joint House State Government Committee. This committee conducted 3 months of hearings on a wide range of subjects and issued a report on May 12, 2021.

The report is very comprehensive and if you read past the “nice, bipartisan” language, you can see that they did not shy away from the real problems in Pennsylvania. There are 25 major conclusions including; “Any place where a ballot is being cast should be treated as a polling place, with
meaningful access for bipartisan observers as well as consistent accessibility requirements. The Election Code should provide uniformity in ensuring that all places where voting occurs are subject to the same regulations regarding accessibility, transparency, electioneering, and security.”

I have to admit that taking off my partisan anger over the stolen election, the process used here looks very fair. If we were dealing with honest brokers in the Democrat Party, I would be impressed by the work done. They looked at concerns from both sides of the aisle and made recommendations that both enhance the security of elections and expand voting access. The political reality is that the GOP controls 60% of both the Senate and the House, which is unsurprising given the demographics of the state as I discussed earlier. But the fraud machine makes it easier for the metro areas to dictate state-wide elections, especially for Governor. I feel there is some hope here for legislation to pass. When the Legislature rescinded all of the emergency powers it also rescinded the emergency laws allowing mail-in voting without cause. The election law reverts to the previous version where PA is one of the few states that does not allow absentee voting without having to give a reason why.

Here are some of the highlights I took from the report:

1) Clear and uniform guidance to election officials through statutory language
2) Upgrade systems to support mail-in voting
3) Improve election audit processes using other states for best practices and make them independent
4) Move the voter registration deadline back to 30 days prior to election
5) Follow the Florida model for voting machine certification
6) Allow no excuse mail-in voting but require voter ID with it
7) Consistent election day procedures for all 67 counties
8) Cybersecurity protections to provide election integrity

I’ve only touched on the surface of this report, and I think it is worth reading. It is clear and avoids legislative language.

There are many other states who have passed or are about to pass new election laws. I am encouraged to see all of the activity going on, and I hope that Michigan and Wisconsin will soon take up legislation. Assuming that our vote ever matters again, these changes are a good step forward, allowing us to cast our vote and be able to trust the results. And the shrieks of “Voter Suppression” from the left tells me that these new laws are cutting into the core mechanisms used for fraud.


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posted by Open Blogger at 02:27 PM

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