In a recent letter to the editor, Charles Medvitz made the case for improving state-level election systems. While we disagree on the reasons, we agree on the bottom line and I’d suggest going further. The U.S. needs to revamp the current, “patchwork quilt” of election laws and procedures to establish a cohesive, sensible, clear and simple voting process. After all, voting is a central tenet and sacred right of our democratic system of government.
There are several ways to improve the voting process. There should be a nationwide, universal standard for all early and mail-in voting. We witnessed an unprecedented reliance on early and absentee voting in 2020 due to the pandemic. The rules for these voting options varied from state to state, which resulted in confusion and some chaos.
It is noteworthy that over 100 million citizens chose to vote early this past year. This yields a benefit to us all – shorter lines at polling stations on election day and less burden for poll workers. Most importantly, it aids individual voters in casting their ballot in a way that works for them given their life situation.
Ultimately, the lack of a nationwide, standardized election system has a darker impact; it suppresses the votes of millions of our poor and marginalized citizens. In many states, primarily in the South, laws exist to make voting more challenging through onerous voter ID laws, closure of polling stations and purging of voter rolls. These actions overwhelmingly target communities of color.
Congress has the power to act now and make sweeping reforms to our nation’s voting system and restore the protections that were enshrined in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to address voting discrimination.
Medvitz was right about the need for reform. We all want to protect our country from authoritarian rule, chaotic elections and suppression of the legal right of every citizen to vote. Let’s call on our representatives to make nationwide, universal voting standards a reality now.