This editorial ran in the Colby Free Press on Thursday, January 27, 2022.
Confidence in elections is vital to self-governance, and voting is a fundamental right. This is something Democrats, Republicans and all Americans can agree on.
Yet, last week Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats attempted to pass partisan election reform legislation that would allow taxpayer dollars to pay for political campaigns for candidates running for the House of Representatives and make updating voter rolls to ensure accuracy more difficult.
It would also undermine state voter ID laws like the one in Kansas. According to a Gallup poll, 80 percent of Americans support voter ID laws, but under this legislation, states would be required to accept essentially any document that includes a person’s name as a valid form of ID. If you want to dispel the notion that voter fraud occurs in our elections, this is not a good start.
Two provisions that the Democrats’ bill would force nationwide — same-day registration and no-excuse absentees — were recently rejected at the state level by the citizens of New York in the November elections. It’s unfortunate that New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer thinks he knows what’s better for his constituents than they do.
The Democrats’ attempt to pass this legislation ignores an obvious conclusion: citizens of one state know their interests and preferences better than those from other states. In other words, the people of Kansas know what is best for Kansans better than the people or representatives of California know what is best for Kansans.
It also raises this question: how can relinquishing election administration to a national body be in the best interest of the people of Colby, Goodland, Norton, Oberlin or any community in Kansas?
It’s not. And the Constitution clearly states the “times, places, and manner” of congressional elections “shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”
Kansans elect only six of the 535 total members of Congress. It’s a zero-sum proposition: either states retain their authority to set election procedure, which is decided by duly elected representatives who are directly accountable to the citizens of that state, or Kansas is relegated to taking commands from the federal government on election procedures with no regard to local circumstances.
One such command in the Democrats’ partisan legislation would require counties that had more than 3,000 voters in the 2020 election to offer 15 days of early voting, 10 hours per day, including weekends – affecting many Kansas counties that are largely rural – even though Kansas already allows county clerks to begin in-person advance voting up to 20 days before an election. This mandate is unnecessary and would strain county election officials and waste resources, simply because Washington Democrats think they know better than Kansans.
Leader Schumer and Congressional Democrats are pushing a false narrative regarding elections. Voter turnout has actually increased during recent elections. According to a recent poll, 94 percent said voting was easy and more Americans believe voting laws are too lax and insecure than believe they are too restrictive. Democrats’ partisan election overhaul is a solution in search of a problem that does not exist.
While the merits of state election laws are worthy of debate in statehouses across the country, federalizing election procedures would export a state authority to the federal government and defer decisions on how citizens elect their Congressional representatives to Congress. This is inherently less responsive and less accountable.
We can still agree on two basic ideals – we must have confidence in our elections and understand that voting is a fundamental right. I want every person who is legally entitled to vote, to vote. Kansans know what is best for Kansas, and Congressional Democrats would be wise not to underestimate our resolve in making our own determinations.
# # #