Saturday, January 8, 2022

If You Really Want to Safeguard Democracy, Concentrate on the Main Problem

It's really as simple as that. And the Democrats have fallen short again and again of understanding and acting on this simple truth. Why does it take David Brooks to point out the obvious here?
"Elections have three phases: registering and casting votes, counting votes and certifying results. When it comes to the first two phases, the American system has its flaws but is not in crisis. As Yuval Levin noted in The Times a few days ago, it’s become much easier in most places to register and vote than it was years ago. We just had a 2020 election with remarkably high turnout. The votes were counted with essentially zero fraud.
The emergency is in the third phase — Republican efforts to overturn votes that have been counted. But Democratic voting bills — the For the People Act and its update, the Freedom to Vote Act — were not overhauled to address the threats that have been blindingly obvious since Jan. 6 last year. They are sprawling measures covering everything from mail-in ballots to campaign finance. They basically include every idea that’s been on activist agendas for years.
These bills are hard to explain and hard to pass. By catering to D.C. interest groups, Democrats have spent a year distracting themselves from the emergency right in front of us....
Given the racial history of this country, efforts to limit voting, as some states have been implementing, are heinous. I get why Democrats want to repel them. But this, too, is not the major crisis facing us. That’s because tighter voting laws often don’t actually restrict voting all that much. Academics have studied this extensively. A recent well-researched study suggested that voter ID laws do not reduce turnout. States tighten or loosen their voting laws, often seemingly without a big effect on turnout. The general rule is that people who want to vote end up voting.
Just as many efforts to limit the electorate don’t have much of an effect, the Democratic bills to make it easier to vote might not have much impact on turnout or on which party wins. As my Times colleague Nate Cohn wrote last April, “Expanding voting options to make it more convenient hasn’t seemed to have a huge effect on turnout or electoral outcomes. That’s the finding of decades of political science research on advance, early and absentee voting.”...
Th[e] popular assumption [that higher turnout helps Democrats] is ...false. Political scientists Daron R. Shaw and John R. Petrocik, authors of “The Turnout Myth,” looked at 70 years of election data and found “no evidence that turnout is correlated with partisan vote choice.”
Got it? The critical thing for American democracy really is certifying election results, not the other stuff. Why don't Democrats have the discipline to concentrate on the real danger here? It's really kind of shocking when you think about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.