Saving Our Democracy, One Vote at a Time
- Category: The Goods
- Published: Thursday, 22 September 2022 09:17
- Joanne Wallenstein
The right to vote in free and fair elections is now in jeopardy, putting our democracy at risk. That’s what Lauren Miller , Counsel, Brennan Center's Democracy Program documented at a meeting of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale in the dining tent in Scarsdale Village on Monday September 19, 2022.
Sadly, a legacy of the Trump administration, are challenges to local and state election laws and threats to election workers that resulted in disenfranchised voters, limits on voting rights, restrictive voter legislation and shortages of election workers who are fearful of reprisal.
In her talk, “The January 6 Hearings and the Big Lie’s Ongoing Threats to our Democracy,” Miller showed how false claims about the 2020 election have prompted the passage of anti-voter laws and mistrust in the electoral process.
According to Miller, ““The Big Lie” is the simple idea that the 2021 election was taken from President Trump by President Biden. That relies on hundreds of false claims of voter fraud…. all of those claims were proven to be false. …There were over 60 lawsuits. But it was in fact one of the most secure elections I American history.”
Miller continued, “The country has a decentralized system for administering elections. Each county makes their own rules. Each state has their own policy for counting votes. Therefore there are many, many opportunities to make claims. If we had one unified system there would not be a basis for these claims.”
Taking advantage of the decentralized process, in 2021 18 states passed 34 restrictive voter laws, the most ever in history and this movement continues in 2022 when 142 bills have already been introduced. She said there has been a “Rise in election interference or sabotage legislation… The laws make it easier to replace local election officials if they don’t like how it’s going.”
The Brennan Center has documented the link between the restrictive voting bills and those who promulgated the Big Lie. The Brennan Center has analyzed every single lawsuit and found that corresponding laws were introduced. She said, “We are facing a serious problem. These are not coincidental…. There are even bills to eliminate mail in ballots. … Most troubling is that these laws are disenfranchising voters of color.”
She also discussed the threats to local voting officials, saying, “We are seeing that vigilantes are attacking elected officials for doing their jobs and giving death threats to families, spouses and children.”
-One in six election officials have experienced these threats – and they are in association with the big lie.
-One in five election officials are preparing to resign before the 2024 election.
-One in three election officials knows someone who has left already.
What can we do? Miller advised the group to:
-Continue to mobilize
-Organize in your community
-Becoming a poll worker
In addition, the Brennan Center is asking Congress to strengthen our democratic guard rules. Miller was heartened by the fact that the John Lewis Voting Rights Act almost passed Congress this year. The act would have strengthened voting laws, offered protection for voting officials and protect the right to vote. About the bill she said, “It is not a matter of if – it is a matter of when.”
The bill would restore the law to full strength, in part by once again requiring states with histories of voter discrimination to receive approval from the Department of Justice or a federal court before enacting voting changes.
Furthermore, Miller said, “ The January 6 hearings are doing so much to bring these issues to light and organizations like the LWVS allows us to get the message out.”
The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, a volunteer nonpartisan political organization which promotes political responsibility through informed and active participation of citizens in government. The League is nonpartisan in that it does not support or oppose any candidate for public office; it is political in that it takes positions on selected governmental issues after serious member study and consensus. Learn more here.
(Pictured at top: Lauren Miller of the Brennan Center addressed the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale.)