By Michael Bryan
As I write, three Congressional races in AZ are really too close to call, especially with an estimated 400K provisional ballots cast. CDs 1, 2, and 9 are all competitive districts and the vote was expected to be close in all three: and tight races are where the leverage of dirty tricks to suppress the vote, disenfranchise legitimate voters, and skew the counting, matter the most. Currently McSally, Kirkpatrick and Sinema enjoy slight leads, but that could, and almost certainly will, change in coming days. We won’t know who won these races for days, possibly longer – and maybe never, once the lawyers get cranked up.
This election continues to demonstrate what an embarrassing mess our electoral system is (specifically in AZ, but also nationally), and how shamefully effective the myth of in-person vote fraud has been in helping the GOP manipulate our elections through voter ID laws (not to mention misleading voter contact and outreach, and woefully lax election integrity). The system of local voting precincts in which voters must bear the burden of showing up to right polling location in order to exercise their constitutional right is antiquated, broken, and down-right stupid. The will of the electorate should be the final measure of democratic legitimacy, but far too often the expression of that choice is muddied, muted, or distorted by archaic, politicized, and insecure voting systems.
It’s time for Arizonans, and all Americans, to demand action. We can do better, and doing so will not be hard or expensive. It just takes citizens making it a priority. As a democratic society we should all want truly competitive elections in truly competitive districts, but the scandalous truth is that our current system is simply not capable of delivering clear and verifiable results in such races. When the margin gets down below 1 or 2 percent, no one can truly claim an unambiguous victory – that undermines the legitimacy of democratic elections.
We need free and fair access to the franchise. Voter ID laws are a crime against the electorate. They purport to address a nonexistent threat to the integrity of our elections, but their only effect is to thwart legitimate voters, thus undermining the legitimacy of elections. We need to repeal Voter ID requirements in AZ, and everywhere, because the only purpose of such laws is to discourage legitimate voters.
We need to make voting easier and more convenient. No more long lines, wrong polling locations, or provisional ballots (which in practice most often means a legitimate vote is discarded on a technicality). We need primarily by mail elections, extensive early voting in person at any location convenient for the voter, secure on-line voting, and automatic registration of every citizen who turns 18, or at least same-day registration. No legitimate voter should ever be refused their right to vote for any reason should they chose to do so.
Finally, we need to ensure that elections are fully transparent, audit-able, and secure against insiders or outsiders tampering with the result. Every citizen should be able to have complete confidence that every vote has been counted accurately – we can be, and must be, just as confident about our votes as we are about our money in the bank.
In America, a voting system in which we can all trust the results, and participate without impediment if we choose to, is the right of every citizen. We have the right to know that the results these three close Congressional races are due only to the unambiguous expressed will of the voters, not a wrinkle in the rules, an unjustly disenfranchised voter, nor a quirk in the counting – under the current system, we haven’t any such confidence.