January 18, 2022

Voting rights, myths and fallacies

The general election conducted during the pandemic of 2020 has been cited for several irregularities. For example, many states had their voting laws changed during the period of live and absentee voting. Some of the states changed procedures and deadlines by officials not authorized by law to do so. Although no charges of irregular procedures have actually been found by a court of law, many hasty or unclear situations have occurred.

Some polling places actually were not accessible to poll watchers. Now, a poll watcher is different than a poll worker. The poll worker is a paid employee of the local election officials to properly and lawfully conduct the elections. Poll workers take an oath to oversee elections in an impartial manner. In most states, including Iowa, poll workers are required by law to act in a politically impartial manner. To insure this, in Iowa, there must be poll workers from each political party in each polling place at all times.

A poll watcher is trained, and sometimes paid, by and works for, a political party. Each state has unique duties and procedures to help ensure against illegal activity during the election. Each political party has the opportunity to assign individuals as poll watchers. Typically, a poll watcher has limited access, but does have an opportunity to challenge individual voters for eligibility.

There seems to be a great dialog about the conduct of elections in the United States of America. Congress, especially the House of Representatives has been working on a new bill that would drastically change the voting laws as we have known them since the Constitution and the Amendments listed below, were approved.

Voter files in many states contain duplicate names, the names of voters who have moved to a different voting district and maybe fictional and deceased voters. States have different methods to purge these voter lists, and bring them up to date.

In 2005 the Carter-Baker Commission of Federal Election reform issued a report that proposed a uniform system of voting, which would require a valid photo ID in order to vote in U.S. elections. This commission also pointed out that widespread, loosely monitored, absentee voting makes fraud more likely. Former Democrat president, Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III, a Republican, lead the effort. The remainder of the committee were prominent members of both parties.

Some of the commission members came out last year to repudiate the commission’s work. Jimmy Carter was among those who changed their mind.

The United States Constitution has this, and only this, to say about elections:

Article 1. Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen by the people, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

Constitutional Amendment XV. The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by The United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. February 3, 1870.

Constitutional Amendment XIX. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. August 18, 1920.

Constitutional Amendment XXIV. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President… or for Senator or Representatives in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the Unites States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax. January 23, 1964.

Amendment XXVI. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. July 1, 1971.

Amendment X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or the people. December 15, 1791.

You can see, the Tenth Amendment actually prohibits the United States from interfering with elections except for a few narrow issues. As in so many other ways, however, our federal government makes up laws on the run that exceed Constitutional authority.

Mike Lang, Chairman

Union County Republican Central Committee