“Fair elections and a strong economy: Both are at risk”

Robert Rubin and Sam Issacharoff oped:

President Bidenspeaking in Philadelphia last month, warned of nefarious efforts afoot to undermine voting rights, calling them the “most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War.” But while much attention has gone to voter suppression laws in states like Texas, too few are focusing on norm-shattering changes to the way elections are administered in this country — and the profound consequences they could have for our democracy and our economy.

In the last six months alone, more than 400 bills have been introduced in 49 states that would, under the guise of combating fraud, give state legislatures unprecedented and ominous powers over how elections are administered, votes counted and results certified. A spurious, partisan declaration of fraud might someday soon be enough to overpower democratic outcomes.

These efforts not only threaten our democracy, they threaten to shake the foundations of our market-based economic system. One of the great strengths of the American economy is the rule of law. When domestic and foreign businesses invest in the United States — helping to create jobs — or when investors buy U.S. Treasuries — helping to fund the government programs on which Americans depend — they are relying on this bedrock. Everything from business confidence to the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency depends on the rule of law. Its degradation could therefore fundamentally affect the way our economy functions, and the economic outlook for the years and decades ahead.

Whereas democratic best practices would leave election mechanics to independent civil servants, voting oversight in the U.S. has largely been political, albeit bipartisan. In practice, this has worked just fine: So long as each of the two major parties could stand vigilant over the other, a commitment to electoral competition, repeat play and basic values of popular sovereignty has kept temptations to cheat at bay. 

Now, that long-standing balance is in jeopardy….

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