Bryan Griffin: Election Integrity Is Not Voter Suppression | WAMC

Bryan Griffin: Election Integrity Is Not Voter Suppression

Mar 17, 2021

Republicans need to do more to push back against the notion that election integrity measures are designed to suppress voting.

This narrative has been bought, paid for, and constructed for political ends--then repeated as if fact by many mainstream media outlets.

For weeks, news article headlines have parroted this political angle better than any hired spokesperson.

It’s a ridiculous notion to equate election integrity with voter suppression. It’s dishonest. But worse of all, it stifles thoughtful debate and discourages good policy.

Our election system isn’t perfect. A lot of Republicans have serious concerns after the 2020 election, just as Democrats did after the 2016 election. However, Democrats have now abandoned election integrity entirely. Stacy Abrams calls it “a redux of Jim Crow in a suit and tie.”

But every American wants their vote to count.

And every American wants to be able to trust in the election process.

Great sacrifices have been made for our right to vote. Our troops defend our democratic system overseas from foreign enemies. The women’s suffrage and civil rights movements fought valiantly to ensure that every American enjoyed the precious right to vote.

Our voting process must have integrity, and people must believe in it.

Election integrity should be a bipartisan issue because it defends the “one person, one vote” design for Republicans and Democrats.

Our ballot box is the great equalizer. By design, every American’s vote should carry the exact same weight as any other American’s vote, regardless of wealth, status, or power.

Fraudulent or miscounted votes unequalize the playing field. The potential for fraud invites money and power to have influence in the voting process.

It would suppress voter participation not to ensure that every American has confidence in the equal weight of their vote.

Not one of the proposed election integrity issues suggested by Republican legislatures makes any distinction in application by race or party. Every proposed election integrity measure applies across the board to every voter. 

The proposed election integrity reforms take aim at the election procedure vulnerabilities that can be manipulated unfairly by those with wealth, status, and manpower.

It is a reasonable assumption that a vote that must be delivered to the ballot box is less secure than a vote placed directly into the ballot box.

The in-person voting booth is safe from undue influence and should be the default voting practice.

A ballot filled out away from the ballot box has the potential to be influenced by others.

There are plenty of documented examples of organized ballot harvesting – a tactic where partisan staffers are hired to collect ballots, distribute them according to their political preferences, or influence the vote with their mere presence while the ballot is being completed.

Mailing a vote also creates the potential for chain of custody issues.

Some people need to vote absentee, and that should be allowed. No proposed reform wants to stop that. But it should not become the default. Using the mail and thus inviting outside and undue influence into the voting process should be upon request of the voter with special circumstances only.

Instead, in 2020, many election jurisdictions decided unilaterally to mail ballots out preemptively, or remove any sort of cause requirement for absentee voting.

Essentially, mail-in voting moved from a system of accommodation to the default voting practice.

A voting system defaulted to the mailbox makes our elections only as secure as our phone bills or our credit card statements.

Identity theft is a real issue and treated seriously by our elected leaders. Why wouldn’t voter fraud get the same serious attention?

Voter fraud is not a fantasy.

The Heritage Foundation keeps an online database of proven voter fraud cases. There have been dozens of news articles about ballots that have been misplaced, mishandled, or turned up in a place they shouldn’t be. Shouldn’t these incidents inform policy proposals? And be acted upon?

Finally, the eligibility to vote must have some sort of verification process.

So many aspects of our society require identification. This includes driving, owning a firearm, and getting on an airplane. It’s so regular, we take it for granted. Nobody questions identification in these contexts. Should voting not be as secure as these activities, if not more?

President Biden recently claimed that voter ID is “an attempt to repress minority voting.” He and his party push incredibly stringent identity verification for the purchasing and ownership of firearms. Is that an attempt to repress minority Second Amendment rights?

Let’s make identification cheaper and easier to access to the public, in a bipartisan effort, instead of conceding election integrity to shortcomings in the government identification infrastructure.

Good policy would reinforce every part of the voting process.

Election integrity isn’t voter suppression. Stop playing politics with our democracy. 

Bryan Griffin is a lawyer, author, and policy analyst at the London Center for Policy Research. He advocates for the causes of freedom and limited government.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.