It’s Not Just Georgia: More Than A Dozen Other States Are Trying To Take Power Away From Local Election Officials

The new election restrictions in Georgia have thanks accruals This leads directly to additional burdens for voters, such as E.g. an identification requirement for postal voting or a ban on the distribution of food or water to people standing in line to vote. Equally important, however, is that the law allows elections to be more nakedly partisan.

In essence, the law provides a mechanism for transferring the power currently being transferred non-partisan or impartial constituencies to the Republican-majority State Electoral Committee by giving the committee the power to suspend local electoral officials in up to four counties at the same time and appoint a temporary replacement. The powers of the district boards include the ability to question the eligibility to vote and to certify the election results. This means that a state-appointed election tsar could theoretically invalidate a fair election by refusing to certify the results and casting thousands of supposedly questionable votes (the new ones). The law also allows people to vote an unlimited number of To dispute votes. However, the State Election Board can only suspend local election officials after a hearing, which must take place at least 30 days after the first complaint, so in practice there there probably wouldn’t be enough time for an election for partisan hardliners to seize these powers and overthrow an election.

A more realistic concern of the Democrats, however, is that the reservation could be used to identify highly democratic, highly non-white jurisdictions such as the United States Fulton Countywhich includes much of Metro Atlanta. A state commissioner would have the power to do so Condense polling stations in these counties and offer fewer early votes than the locals are used to, which disproportionately restricts access to votes in bluer parts of the state. The deportation clause could also be used to take revenge on local officials who encourage voting further than state officials would like, as DeKalb County did in the 2020 general election Postal voting requests sent to all registered voters. (Such unsolicited bulk mailings of postal voting applications are now also prohibited by law.)

And importantly, attempts to reduce local control over elections are not limited to Georgia. As part of the hundreds of election restrictions the Republican legislature has proposed so far this year, at least 13 other states have passed or are considering laws that would handcuff local election officials (in some cases, literally).

  • in the Iowa, a package of recently adopted voting restrictions makes it a crime for election officials to fail to perform their duties or to disobey the instructions of the (currently Republican) Secretary of State. County electoral officials are now also fined $ 10,000 for “technical violations” of the electoral law. The law is also at the discretion of county electoral officials on how aggressively early and postal voting is to be encouraged: they are prohibited from sending postal votes to voters who have not asked, and they cannot open a satellite prematurely. Voting venue unless specifically requested by a local voter.
  • Likewise a Texas invoice that recently Committee passed This would make it a crime for electoral officials to pre-fill requests for postal votes, to send a postal vote to someone other than the person who requested it, to change the electoral rules without the Secretary of State’s approval, or even to encourage people to join to apply voting by mail – even those who are entitled to do so. Another bill, which passed the state Senate, would also prohibit local election officials from encouraging people to vote in any way by mail Expansion of electoral access as in several blue districts in 2020B. 24-hour early voting, drive-through voting and sending unsolicited postal voting requests again. The bill would also require the Secretary of State’s permission for counties to accept more than $ 1,000 in third-party funding for election administration if they fail to remove non-citizens from voting lists within 30 days of being notified of the status of a voter the secretary of state has the power to remove voters from the lists if the district clerks do not. A third billThe office currently pending on the committee would also transfer all responsibility for registering voters and keeping electoral rolls from the district clerks to the secretary of state.
  • Four bills for local control of the elections already have a Chamber of Arkansas Legislative branch. One would do local election officials responsible for Partisan County electoral bodies;; Another would refer possible violations of the electoral law to the State Board of Election Commissioners, bypassing county officials. A third removes the authority of the district clerks to designate voting centers while the fourth prohibits the Sending unsolicited postal voting applications. A fifth bill, still on the committee, would allow the State Board of Election Commissioners to take over local election administration. Although this latter may be the most obvious, the opponents of the accounts see it all as thinly veiled attacks on the sovereignty of Pulaski County, home of Little Rock and one of the state’s few remaining blue counties.
  • A Voter ID bill recently passed until Missouri The State House would enable the Secretary of State to examine a local electoral authority’s electoral roll and identify names that should be deleted. If the local authority does not cooperate, the State Secretary can withhold funding from it. As in other countries, the legislation also states: “The use of postal ballot papers must not be authorized by any executive or administrative ordinance.” Another bill This would make it a crime for local election officials not to remove voters from the lists within 10 days of receiving notification that they have died or become incapacitated.
  • Bills have also been proposed to ban the bulk mailing of postal voting requests in Connecticut, Michigan, South Dakota and Tennessee. (However, the South Dakota proposal was rejected.)
  • Invoices in Arizona, New Jersey and new York would similarly prohibit mailing absenteeism Ballot to all who have not requested one.
  • And legislation in Illinois and Wisconsin would prohibit unsolicited mailing both Applications and ballot papers.

Most of these bills are not as aggressive as Georgia’s, but they all undermine the localities’ ability to govern themselves. In this way political scientist from Illinois State University Lori Riverstone-Newell FiveThirtyEight said they were part of an increasing trend of states withholding local government in order to keep power to themselves: Conservative lawmakers in particular have passed several laws in recent years this limits the types of laws municipalities can passincluding protection of protected cities, discrimination ordinances against LGBT people and an increase in the minimum wage (especially in the south). These laws can often have what Riverstone-Newell calls a “chilling effect” where that mere threat If power is taken from them, local officials are afraid to rule at their own discretion.

These laws often have racist overtones too. For example, the state in Michigan may have a “Emergency manager“Taking over management of local governments in need – which has been used in recent years to remove local control Majority Black Detroit and Flint (In particular, were emergency managers accused of Exacerbation of the Flint water crisis). Because the county’s electoral officials are elected at the local level, laws removing them from majority and minority counties prevent non-white citizens from voting. And some, like the Texas bills, that seems to be a response different countiesVoting extensions In 2020, criminalize measures that make it easier for people of color to cast their votes. “The part that I think is so important is retaliation,” he said Myrna Pérez, Director of Voting and Election Programs at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Look at who is actually handicapped on the ground [by these laws]. That suggests genuine opposition to an expanded electorate. “

No, not all of these laws contain an actual electoral overthrow mechanism. The mere act of usurping the powers of local electoral officials, however, threatens democratic values ​​in and of itself. “This undermines our notion of interstate relations … where we recognize that local government plays a crucial role within the federal system,” said Riverstone-Newell. “It’s so strange that we want to put local governments in a position where they can’t respond to local needs and wants.” Pérez agreed, “They are taking away opportunities that electoral administrators must have to go beyond the minimum requirements … and to take into account local facts and local needs when serving their constituents.”

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