America needs to protect the vote with uniform voting standards

America needs to protect the vote with uniform voting standards
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You would think that after the boondoggle of the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election that there would have been legislation passed that insured uniform standards for federal elections.

The pandemic has raised questions about the integrity and operation of the presidential election now just months away. Some see it as an opportunity to secure our electoral process, while others see it as an opportunity to co-opt it.

In light of the pandemic, Democrats are calling for a national “all-mail election” this presidential election cycle. This defies common sense and invites fraud and eliminates the ability for civilian oversight.

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The Republican National Committee is citing an internal poll which finds:

Democrats’ national mail-in voting standard is nothing more than a voter harvesting scheme. Ballot harvesting is when political “volunteers” deliver and collect ballots for submission for processing and counting. Some jurisdictions have banned such practices because it at least gives the appearance of ballot manipulation and at worst amounts to fraud in practice. The RNC polling also reflects that 67 percent of voters oppose ballot harvesting.

In an effort to create order out of chaos it makes sense that there be uniform standards in federal elections that ensure all Americans are treated equally and fairly when exercising their most valued right as a citizen.

In federal elections there should not be 50 different standards. There should be one. If it is good enough for New York it should be good enough for Florida and vice versa.

Uniform federal election law should include:

  • Identification:A citizen 18 years of age or older shall produce a valid photo ID from an approved federal or state agency to register to vote, or to vote. Photo IDs have 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 may register to vote up to two weeks prior to a federal election by appearing in person at an authorized federal or state office and making application.
  • Voting:An eligible voter may appear at their designated polling place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 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 10 a.m.to 4 p.m.
  • Absentee voting:An eligible voter — upon the showing of good cause — shall be entitled to vote by absentee ballot, provided they petition for an absentee ballot in person at the designated place no more than 1 month and no less than two weeks before a federal election.
  • Voting machines:Voting machines shall be uniform in federal elections. A uniform standard shall be established to insure one voting machine for X number of registered voters at a polling place.
  • Voting protocols:There shall be uniform federal rules and protocols for voter IDs, registration, voting, poll watching, voting machines, eligibility, timing, locations, tallying, reporting, challenges, recounts, certifications, candidate eligibility, forms etc.

Establishing fair, just and equitable federal voting standards will force the states to follow suit. Although states will not be required to follow federal rules in state or local elections, it would be costly and inefficient not to do so.

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 to 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 ensure 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.

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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 to have 50 different rules for federal elections.

Voting should be not be so easy as to invite fraud or abuse. If you can take the time to wait in a DMV line for a license or automobile registration, then you certainly can do the same for voting.

Driving is a privilege — voting is a right.

If federal law were able to finally bring order and confidence to our national elections, then states would be fools not to adopt federal standards in their own election protocols.

My vote is for national voting standards that will eliminate state lawsuits, confusion and inequities to registration and voting nationwide.

Bradley A. Blakeman was a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. A principal of the 1600 Group, a strategic communications firm, he is an adjunct professor of public policy and international affairs at Georgetown University and a frequent guest on Fox News and Fox Business.