To the editor: Imagine that the loser of a hard fought Super Bowl refuses to accept the result. They charge the winning team with cheating, ask to review all the plays they didn’t like, and claim that the refs were in on the cheating. When their loss is certified, instead of firing the coach, or getting better players, or even trying to figure out what went wrong and what they could do better, they try to change the rules of the game so their team can’t ever lose again. Would sports fans accept this?
Well, that’s what Georgia’s Republican controlled legislature just did and there are bills like this moving ahead in 43 states. The bill that Georgia passed has a lot of the usual voter suppression stuff ... ID requirements, closing polls earlier, limiting absentee and early voting, etc. Many have commented on the rather extreme provision that makes it a crime to give water to people waiting in line to vote. That’s bad, but what would really change things is the restructuring of who chooses the electors and certifies the votes. The new law strips the secretary of state of his position as chair of the state election board and gives the state legislature the power to fill a majority of the seats on that board, delay certification of votes, and remove and replace any election officials they find unsuitable. This enshrines Trump’s big lie and makes it possible for future candidates to manipulate the outcome of an election the way he tried and failed to do.
Will Americans accept this? New York and Vermont are not going to be passing laws like that, but if enough states do, the next presidential election is going to be an insane mess. One possible solution is to pass a National Voting Rights Act setting national policies for voting and certification. But even that might not help. Chief Justice Roberts and the conservatives on the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act once and would likely do it again. It’s going to take a lot of focused action to fight these undemocratic laws in the courts. Every fan wants their team to win the game, but democracy requires that the competition be fair, and the results based on voters’ opinions about policy and the character of candidates, not demagoguery, manipulation and discrimination.
Hoosick, N.Y., March 31