You would think after the boondoggle of the Florida Recount in the 2000 Presidential Election, there would have been legislation passed that insured uniform standards for federal elections.
Today, we are seeing lingering questions of voting integrity and lawsuits not legislation in states that are requiring I.D.’s and other requirements that affect a person’s right to vote in their home state. As a result of these state lawsuits it insures different standards in different states that has a direct consequence to federal elections.
Uniform federal election law should contain the following with regard to voting:
- I.D.: A citizen 18 years of age or older shall produce a valid photo I.D. from an approved federal or state agency to register to vote or to vote. Photo-I.D. has become a necessity post 9/11. You need one to enter a federal building, get on an aircraft, obtain government benefits, etc.;
- Registration: An eligible citizen to vote may register at anytime but within 2 weeks of a federal election by appearing in person at a authorized federal or state office and making application;
- Voting: An eligible voter may appear at their designated polling place from 7am -9pm on the day of a federal election;
- Early Voting: An eligible voter may vote no earlier than 2 weeks before a federal election at their designated early voting location between the hours of 10am-4pm;
- Absentee Voting: An eligible voter upon the showing of good cause shall be entitled to vote by absentee ballot provided they petition for a absentee ballot in person at the designated place no more than 1 month and no less than 2 weeks before a federal election.
- Voting Machines: Voting machines shall be uniform in federal elections.
- A uniform standard shall be established to insure 1 voting machine for X number of registered voters at a polling place.
- Voting protocols: There shall be uniform federal rules and protocols for voter I.D., culling of voter rolls, registration, voting, poll watching, voting machines, eligibility, timing, locations, tallying, reporting, challenges, recounts, certifications, candidate eligibility, forms etc.
By establishing fair, just and equitable federal voting standards it will force the states for follow suit. Although state’s will not be required to follow federal rules in state or local elections it would be costly and inefficient not to.
Federal standards would only be required for any ballot that contains a federal office election.
The federal government has a paramount interest under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution for insure that all Americans are treated the same when exercising their most important and valued right as a citizen – the right to vote.
As such, the federal government has the affirmative duty to insure that all aspects of voting in federal elections are uniform. It makes no sense that states have the power to make their own rules and requirements with regard to federal elections that could change the outcome, disenfranchise, confuse, prevent or discourage voting.
The goal should be that voting is fair, understandable, convenient and trustworthy. That is not the case today.
It is not fair or equitable for 50 states have 50 different rules for federal elections.
Voting should be not being so easy as to invite fraud or abuse. If you can take the time to wait in a DMV line for license or automobile registration then you can certainly to the same for voting.
Driving is not a right - but voting is.
My vote is for national voting standards that will eliminate state lawsuits, confusion and inequities to registration and voting nationwide.
Bradley Blakeman is professor of public policy, politics and international affairs at Georgetown University's School of Continuing Studies and was a member of President George W. Bush's senior White House staff from 2001 to 2004. He is also a frequent contributor to Fox News and Fox Business Channel.
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