Voters in seven states have a choice on election integrity on their ballots this November. In addition, Louisiana will vote on an election-related issue in December. While several of the initiatives would make elections more secure, others would seem to do the opposite – loosening election security.
Hans Von Spakovsky is an attorney who manages the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative. A senior legal fellow in Heritage’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, he also served as a member of the Federal Election Commission.
Von Spakovsky believes citizens should have equal, free access to the voting process and elections should be secure, free from voter fraud. Heritage maintains a list of 1,384 proven instances of voter fraud from the past 40 years, demonstrating why this is an important issue.
Voters want both access and security. And contrary to the claims of critics, you can provide both. Making sure that every eligible citizen is able to vote does not prevent you from implementing measures intended to safeguard that vote.
Von Spakovsky explains that there are steps each state can take to make sure that elections are both free and fair. We list an abbreviated version of these, below, then show the election-related ballot measure in eight states. You can then judge for yourself: Will this ballot measure improve or decrease voter access and security?
He recommends that each state:
- Verify the accuracy of voter registration lists. This is to make sure that people only vote in the district where they live. Accurate voter lists also affect the number of signatures required to place a measure on the ballot.
- Verify citizenship of voters. Only lawful citizens can vote in federal elections, and eligibility should be verified. But some cities have made non-citizens eligible to vote in state and local elections.
- Require voter ID. Citizens should be required to validate their identity to vote and to receive absentee ballots. Government-issued IDs should be free for those who cannot afford one.
- Limit absentee ballots. These should be reserved for individuals who are too disabled to vote in person or who will be out of town on Election Day and all early-voting days. The more ballots sent by mail, the greater the susceptibility to voter fraud.
- Prevent vote trafficking. Vote harvesting by third parties should be banned.
- Allow election observers complete access to the election process. Observers should not interfere with the voting and counting process. This became an issue in Philadelphia in the 2020 election.
- Provide voting assistance. Individuals who provide help for those who are illiterate, disabled or otherwise needing assistance should be registered and required to provide a photo ID.
- Prohibit early vote counting. Ballot counting should not begin until the polls close at the end of Election Day, or the state should have strict rules to prevent tallies from being leaked.
- Provide state legislatures with legal standing. If other state officials violate the law and change election procedures, legislatures should have legal standing to take action.
Given those sensible guidelines, here are the eight different ballot measures that affect election fairness or integrity:
Arizona voters will decide on Proposition 309, which would require dates of birth and voter identification numbers for mail-in ballots and require in-person voters to present a driver’s license or a government-issued ID.
In Alabama, Amendment 4 would mandate “that any legislation changing the conduct of a general election must be implemented at least six months before the next affected general election.”
Connecticut allows in-person voting only on election day. Question 1 would amend the state constitution to authorize the state legislature to provide by law for in-person early voting before an election.
Louisiana’s Constitutional Amendment 1 is on the ballot December 10. It adds a section in the Louisiana Constitution that says, “No person who is not a citizen of the United States shall be allowed to register and vote in this state.”
Massachusetts’ Question 4 would change the process for obtaining a drivers’ license – which usually includes automatic voter registration. Non-citizens would be able “to submit certain forms of identification to obtain a driver’s license or motor vehicle registration” – but it requires the registry of motor vehicles “to establish procedures and regulations to ensure” that these non-citizens “will not be automatically registered to vote.”
Michigan voters will decide the fate of Proposal 2, which would dramatically change voting in the state by: creating a nine-day early voting period; allowing for a signed affidavit or photo identification to vote; requiring that military and overseas ballots postmarked by election day are counted; and providing voters with a right to request an absentee ballot.
The measure also requires the state to fund prepaid stamps for mail-in ballots, a tracking system for absentee ballots, and absentee ballot drop boxes. It allows local governments to accept charitable and in-kind donations to assist with running elections and provides that election officials are responsible for election audits, requiring election audits to be conducted in public, and requiring election results to be certified based on votes cast.
It would also add constitutional language saying that laws, regulations and practices that interfere with a person’s right to vote are prohibited.
In Ohio, Issue 2 is a constitutional amendment that would prohibit “local governments from allowing noncitizens or those who lack the qualifications of an elector to vote in local elections.”
Finally, Nevada’s Question 3 would establish “open top-five primaries and ranked-choice voting for general elections, which would apply to congressional, gubernatorial, state executive official, and state legislative elections.”
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