Daily Lynn Item Op-Ed, January 18, 2022
Two malicious myths, one promoted by the political left and the other by the right, continue to roil American politics.
Fringe conspiracy theorists on the right still insist that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from President Trump. Although it has been demonstrated to a certainty that President Biden won the election, many Republican politicians, reluctant to alienate those activists, have vocally supported or at least given silent approval to those claims. To say that President Biden won the election is not to say that there was no fraud or that there were no technically illegal votes counted.
There are a few known, anecdotal incidents of fraud. That there were other such incidents is, as Donald Rumsfeld used to put it, a “known unknown.” When protections against voting fraud are weak, human nature tells us that, given the large stakes of an election, some people will cheat. Legendary Boston political figure Bill Bulger liked to tell the story of the old lady who wanted to be buried in St. Augustine’s Cemetery in South Boston so she could continue to be politically active after she was gone.
As to technically illegal votes, the U.S. Constitution left it to the state legislatures to determine the methods of voting and qualifications, although it was amended to prohibit discrimination by race and to permit Congress to act to prevent such discrimination. The 1965 Voting Rights Act is an example of such action. Due to the Covid Pandemic many election laws were relaxed in 2020 by the courts or election officials without legislative approval. The fact is, however, no arguably, technically illegal votes have been shown to affect the outcome of the election anywhere. The contrary has been demonstrated, even in audits conducted by Republican-controlled legislatures.
The Pandemic did result in a tremendous expansion of the numbers of voters permitted to vote early in person or by mail. Indeed in 2020 several states sent out unsolicited ballots to all registered voters, to be returned by mail or discarded as the voter preferred. After the heated post-election claims of fraud, several, largely Red, states passed election laws tightening security on mailed ballots and cutting back early voting. Here lies the conspiracy theory pushed by the left.
President Biden called these election laws “Jim Crow 2.0” and then “not Jim Crow, Jim Eagle.” On another occasion Biden said, “There’s an unfolding assault taking place in America today – an attempt to suppress and subvert the right to vote and fair and free elections … We’re facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War.”
What’s that all about? Is the KKK riding again? It sounds like “Bull” Connor or is at the voting place with fire hoses and dogs excluding black voters. At the least those states must be reinstating the old literacy tests requiring black registration applicants to recite portions of the constitution.
Well, no. The Georgia law, for example, which opponents deride as “voter suppression,” replaces the controversial “signature match” system for mail voting with an ID requirement. Voters must provide their driver’s license, a free state ID, a voter card or the last 4 digits of their social security number. Counties must have 17 days of early voting days including two on Saturday. Sunday early voting will be optional with it taking place between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the option to extend hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Even the most prominent Georgia complainer of “voter suppression,” failed Georgia Governor candidate Stacey Abrams agrees with a voter ID requirement.
Currently the Senate is considering an amended version of H.R. 1, the appealingly titled “John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” effectively imposing a federal election code on all 50 states. It would, for example, require states to accept and count late mail ballots that lack postmarks. In a recent speech in Georgia, President Biden characterized opponents of the legislation as racists. “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis.”
All this, remember, in support of counting unpostmarked late ballots. These suggestions of some kind of racial discrimination in the voting security laws, where none is even arguable, are to give a basis for federal intervention in voting laws which the Constitution otherwise leaves to the states.
The President’s lie is as big and egregious as any uttered by Donald Trump. American elections are as free, fair and honest as any in the world.