“How Worried Should We Be About Our Election System?”

Miles Rapoport and Cecily Hines in TAP:

Based on discussions with a number of close observers, a rough consensus seems to be emerging that the elements of the bills that throw roadblocks into voting may be the lesser of the worries. Many of the worst aspects of the bills as introduced were dropped along the way. Limitations on early voting still leave significant early voting in place. Drop boxes are lessened but still allowed. Even the tightening of voter ID provisions and time limitations for absentee ballots, given the lead time to prepare, may have less impact than their crafters would hope.

Kathy Boockvar, who served as secretary of state of Pennsylvania through the 2020 elections, adds, “The changes in voting practices don’t worry me as deeply as the power grabs; people will find a way to get out [to vote].” Tammy Patrick, senior adviser to the elections team at the Democracy Fund, who works with election officials around the country, agrees, saying, “We know that often when you put up barriers, voters get more tenacious.” Harvard Law professor Nick Stephanopoulos describes the current bills as “not Jim Crow 2.0, but rather Jim Crow light.”

But there is no similar optimism about the election subversion aspects of the bills. The transfer of control of election administration from professionals to legislative majorities, and the creation of new penalties for election officials, “won’t motivate any election official to do better, it will only serve to scare and intimidate,” noted Natalie Adona, assistant clerk-recorder and registrar of voters in Nevada County, California, at a recent event with election officials sponsored by the Brennan Center and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Wendy Underhill, the director of elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said, “Elections should be run by nonpartisan professionals; legislators do not know how to run elections.”

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