Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has been trying to gut the filibuster rule to bulldoze two dangerous election bills through Congress.
While the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act have many reckless, unwise provisions that would destroy the integrity and security of elections, there are two provisions in particular that illustrate Schumer’s disdain for the voters of his own state and how these bills are a direct attack on democracy.
Among the many harmful provisions in the Freedom to Vote Act (which should really be called the Freedom to Cheat Act) are two that would force states to implement same-day voter registration (Section 1031) and no-fault absentee voting (Section 1301).
Same-day voter registration would require states to allow an individual to register to vote in a polling place on Election Day and then immediately vote, giving election officials no time to verify the accuracy of the registration information or the voter’s eligibility.
It also makes it difficult for election officials to anticipate the number of ballots and election workers needed in any given precinct. When combined with another provision in the bill that guts state photo voter-ID laws, it’s an invitation to fraud.
The no-fault absentee-voting provision would compel states to allow anyone to use an absentee ballot and override state laws that require an excuse, such as being disabled or out of town on Election Day.
No one disputes that we need to have absentee ballots for individuals who cannot make it to the polls for such reasons. However, increasing mail-in balloting is not a good idea because such ballots are much more subject to fraud and delayed delivery than ballots cast in a polling place.
Absentee ballots are voted outside the supervision of election officials and outside the observation of poll observers and have been recognized as the “tool of choice” of vote thieves.
Additionally, while states have bans on electioneering in polling places, there are no prohibitions on electioneering in voters’ homes. That makes voters vulnerable to intimidation and pressure by candidates, campaign staffers, political party activists, and paid political operatives.
The voters of New York recognize those risks and don’t want such rules in their state. How do we know that? Because in last November’s election, they defeated attempts to implement same-day registration and no-fault absentee voting in New York.
Referendum 3, which would have implemented same-day voter registration, was defeated resoundingly, 58% to 42%. Most states require individuals to register before an election. New York’s deadline is 25 days before Election Day.
When combined with the fact that New York has no ID requirement, same-day registration raises serious security concerns. Anyone willing to cheat can walk into any polling place (or places), register under a fake name and address, cast a ballot, then walk out of the polling place scot-free—and election officials can do absolutely nothing to stop it.
Referendum 4, which would have implemented no-fault absentee balloting, was also soundly defeated 56% to 44%. New York, like several other states, allows absentee ballots to be used by voters who are ill, physically disabled, or absent on Election Day.
Yet Schumer and New York’s other Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, are both trying to get a bill through the Senate that would go directly against the will of their constituents in the state they represent. That illustrates their contempt for their own voters.
Moreover, what could be more anti-democratic than overriding the will of the voters of New York—as expressed in an election—in which they specifically said they wanted neither of those policies implemented in their state?
Schumer and Gillibrand are not trying to protect voting rights as they claim. They are trying to disenfranchise the voters of New York and the decisions those voters made in the last election.
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