refusal to accept election results

Is the US Still a Democracy?

Is the US Still a Democracy?

Robert A. Levine

When does a democracy cease to be? Have we reached that point yet or are we getting close? The essence of a democratic system is the opportunity for every citizen to be able to choose who his or her representatives will be in the local, state and federal governments. This prerogative is being taken away from many citizens in various states, particularly those with a reddish hue. Republican state legislatures are tightening voter laws in every way they can, making it more difficult for people to cast ballots.

Gerrymandering has long been a problem, but is only getting worse as partisanship increases. Congressional and state legislative districts are being drawn by state legislatures to give the party in power, usually the Republicans, to win a disproportionate number of seats in relation to the votes it receives. The Republicans in North Carolina received a very minimal majority vote in eth 2022 elections, but gained a supermajority in the state legislature due to gerrymandering. Similarly, a new Congressional map drawn by the new legislature is projected to add three GOP Congressional seats to the current delegation. This blatant political gerrymandering of districts was upheld by the North Carolina Supreme Court which has a five to two Republican majority. Other states are or have proceeded with the same type of mechanisms to aid them in winning the state legislatures and additional Congressional seats though the process is obviously unfair and undemocratic. And the state courts for the most part are upholding these political maneuvers.

But that is not all that Republican controlled states are doing. Some have eliminated voting by mail because that makes it easier to vote and more people are likely to vote. The legislatures have also cut down on the number of voting days and hours and have curtailed the number of drop boxes for mail-in ballots where they are still allowed. In fact the number of these drop boxes makes it necessary for residents to often travel great distances to place their ballots in drop boxes which are frequently overstuffed. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued an order limiting drop boxes to one per county. This means that Houston, with almost five million residents has only one box where all its citizens can deposit their votes. Houston just happens to be a city dominated by minorities who would tend to vote Democratic.

Other ways Republicans are making it more difficult for minorities to vote is by asking for specific IDs that out of state students and minorities may not have. These may include state driver’s licenses which poor people who do not own cars and students from out of state may not have. They are also scrutinizing voter IDs for any slight discrepancies which will enable them to invalidate the voter.

Republican states are also trying to limit the power of the people by changing the rules on referenda. They have seen that the majority of people in many red states favor abortion and perhaps are against other issues that conservatives want to enact. Thus, the state legislatures in some states are requiring a super-majority instead of a simple majority for a referendum issue to pass and in some cases the state legislatures are able to overturn the results of the referendum. Who cares about the voice of the people? The GOP feels the people in their states will not care about the changes and will not do anything about them.

Instead of trying to make it easier for citizens to vote and have a say in policy, red state legislators are making it more difficult, trying to eliminate many of whom they consider voters who lean Democratic. Unfortunately, the state court systems in most Republican controlled states and the Supreme Court are dominated by Republicans and do whatever they can to limit the power of Democratic voters. There is no consideration of democracy, merely winning at all costs, even if it means doing things that are underhanded and unfair. A one party nation would suit these Republicans fine. Who needs elections in the first place?

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An Election Paradox

An Election Paradox

            Robert A. Levine 11-2-2022

When is an election not an election? When one of the candidates refuses to accept the results of the election even before it is held. There are currently a host of Republican candidates for federal, state and local offices who deny that the results of the 2020 presidential election were valid and state that Donald Trump actually won the election. Some of these so-called election deniers are claiming that their own elections for office in 2022, which have not even yet been held, are also rigged and that they will not accept the results if they lose. What is the point of taking part in an election if you will deny its legality if you do not win. You may as well appoint yourself to the office for which you are running.

Among the candidates who deny that Joe Biden was elected legitimately in 2020, and are now running for office in 2022 and refusing to say they will recognize the results if they lose, are Kari Lake, the GOP candidate for Governor of Arizona. She said she will accept the results if she wins. Other gubernatorial nominees who refuse to commit to honoring the balloting are Geoff Diehl in Massachusetts and Tudor Dixon in Michigan. Senate candidates Blake Masters in Arizona, Ted Budd in North Carolina, Kelly Tshibaka in Alaska and J.D. Vance in Ohio have also not agreed to respect the results of their elections. These candidates all support Donald Trump’s election denial and are all supported by Trump in their quest for office.

According to the political site Five Thirty Eight, 60 percent of American voters will have an election denier on the ballot in the 2022 election. Two hundred of 532 Republican candidates for office fit into the category of election deniers, despite the lack of evidence of fraud and sixty court cases that did not validate Trump’s claims. These politicians stoke distrust in American democracy by ordinary voters. This particularly true of Republicans, two thirds of whom in an NPR poll last year thought elections were unfair. Nine in ten Democrats and 60 percent of independents believed that America’s elections were indeed fair.

It is time for Congress to enter the arena of election denial. A law needs to be passed that mandates every candidate before the election to accept the results of their contest no matter who wins, in order for them to run in the first place. If nominees are unwilling to commit to recognizing the choice of the electorate, they should not be allowed to run. Their refusal to abide by the decision of the voters diminishes the sanctity of America’s elections and demonstrates a disregard for the democratic process. This should disqualify them from running or holding any elective office.

With the election deniers and those who refuse to accept election results all being Republicans, it may be difficult to pass an adequate law on the federal level, since bipartisan support would be necessary to overcome a filibuster. Perhaps it can be passed by referendum on a state to state basis. Being excluded from the ballot in some states would make it difficult for presidential and vice-presidential candidates to run unless they agree to accept the election results.

Election denial and refusal to abide by election results is a direct threat to American democracy and increases partisanship and divisiveness among the electorate. This threat needs to be pursued aggressively and eradicated by men and women of good will in both parties. However, convincing Republicans of the need for this law may be difficult since they worship at the altar of Donald Trump and are afraid of incurring his wrath. However, it is merely common sense not to permit candidates to run for office if they won’t commit to accepting the results.

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