- - Monday, July 12, 2021

New York City’s embarrassing recent mayoral primary underscores the absurdity of the recent debate over voting in America. In attacking states’ recent voting reforms, Democrats and their mainstream media enablers have obscured America’s fundamental voting rights problem: Scattered yet significant pockets of incompetent local election administration.

Democrats failed in their initial smears against states like Georgia by claiming that their legislation limited early voting and imposed onerous ID requirements. Democrats had to shift to another line of attack after it was proven that the Georgia bill actually expanded early voting and that its common-sense ID requirements were extremely popular and wouldn’t disenfranchise voters.

You hear very little now about the attacks on early voting. Even outlets like The Washington Post have had to stealth edit and correct articles that made claims these laws limited early voting. In an extreme flip-flop, some Democrats have even begun to shamelessly claim support for voter ID laws, presumably after accepting their incredible popularity.

Since those failures, Democrats have shifted their strategy. Their latest fixation is claiming that some of these state voting reforms “attack” local election officials for “just doing their jobs.” But Democrats couldn’t have launched their new offensive at a more inopportune time. Indeed, New York has now made the Democrats’ argument untenable and indefensible by its botched mayoral primary, in which the city mistakenly counted 135,000 fake “test ballots” in its initial election results.

We will undoubtedly see more examples of mismanagement. This all follows the city’s abysmal performance in the November 2020 election, where it took them a month to count its ballots, didn’t provide final results until this March and had unacceptably long lines that resulted in even AOC blowing the whistle.

States such as Georgia and Iowa have done what lawmakers in New York have refused to do. They have responded to pockets of serious local election administration problems by enacting required performance reviews for election officials — as well as penalties for officials who willfully disregard election laws. These provisions culminate with the authority to remove officials who fail their voters by their inability or unwillingness to administer orderly and accurate elections. 

Florida identified this problem before the 2020 election, and their decision to replace officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties contributed to the state being hailed as a national model for election administration. In light of this most recent humiliation, one would suspect New York voters would embrace their state enacting similar reforms.

Republicans, including me, have explained that these accountability provisions in Georgia and Iowa are getting to the root cause of many of our election administration problems. Americans deserve to vote without delay and have confidence in the accuracy of election results. If local officials aren’t performing their duties effectively and in accordance with the law, then consequences and changes are necessary. 

States like New York should learn from Georgia and Iowa to avoid this endless cycle of mismanagement. Hopefully, voters have had enough and finally demand change.

Don’t count on the Biden administration and congressional Democrats coming to the rescue. The Biden DOJ has thus far ignored these local problems, instead pledging to unleash a barrage of lawsuits attacking the very laws that would fix these problems. Likewise, congressional Democrats opted to go all-in on H.R. 1 and S. 1 in a failed attempt to nationalize our elections by enacting policies that would do nothing to fix local problems.

H.R. 1 and S.1 would have actually worsened local issues by imposing unworkable and overly complex policy mandates on states and localities. Democrats’ forthcoming legislation amending the Voting Rights Act promises to add onerous layers of federal micromanagement, such as a federal veto over changes as small as polling place relocations. Such restrictions will make local election administration more difficult.

Many election officials have been unfairly attacked. Death threats, vandalism, and other harassment are unacceptable and need to stop. But that is a completely separate issue from states working to improve their election performance by imposing accountability measures where failures have occurred. The RNC will continue our work to defend these reforms and point out the Democrats’ hypocrisy of turning a blind eye to these problems.

• Justin Riemer is Chief Counsel for the Republican National Committee.

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