Guest Commentary / January 19, 2022

Voting Rights: What Are They? Are They Being Suppressed?

With mail-in voting, all the safeguards that have been at the foundation of our election system for 246 years are cast aside.

By Larry Craig

There are two major bills in Congress now that only one party is enthusiastic about.

Both bills are framed as “voting rights” legislation. In other words, someone, like the other party, is trying to suppress the voting rights of millions of people. But then when you look at the bills, I find it hard to think what voting rights are being suppressed.

The bills do address the issue of whether people who have been incarcerated have a right to vote. The Constitution doesn’t even talk about who can vote, except for the 26th Amendment that allows people as young as 18 to vote, but it doesn’t say that every person over 18 has a right to vote such that the government cannot restrict it. Then there is the 15th Amendment that suggests criminals indeed can be restricted in their ability to vote.

The only rights our Founders spoke of are unalienable rights given to us by God. And when they finally decided to enumerate some of these and codify them in the Constitution as the Bill of Rights, they didn’t think to include a right to vote.

I venture to say that the most important part of the bills in the minds of the bills’ authors and their supporters is allowing all voters to vote by mail.

Is voting by mail a right? Are people being suppressed if they can’t vote by mail?

Why was it not a right for the last 246 years that we have been a nation?

I submit that fair and free and honest and secure elections are built on three pillars that can only be ensured with in-person voting, such that mail-in voting should only be reserved for rare, necessary cases.

1) When people vote in person, we know who is voting. When ballots are mailed in, we don’t know who filled them out. But wait. It seems that to know who is voting somehow suppresses the vote. Apparently, there are millions of people in our country, mostly minorities, who don’t have driver’s licenses or other forms of ID. And thinking that any person who really wanted to vote could get one in the four years between the presidential elections is just expecting too much of people.

2) When people vote in person, they vote in private. Nobody else knows how they voted, and nobody is able to influence that vote. We don’t know the circumstances under which a mail-in ballot was filled out.

3) When people vote in person, each person puts their own ballot into the box, again without anyone else knowing how they voted, thus ensuring that only ballots whose voter identify has been confirmed are counted. With mail-in ballots, stacks of ballots are entered into the machines at one time in full view of the person entering them. There’s almost nothing to prevent additional ballots from being added to the stack and counted.

With mail-in voting, all the safeguards that have been at the foundation of our election system for 246 years are cast aside as unimportant and unessential and burdensome.

I am concerned that by constantly referring to these bills as voting rights bills, people will too eagerly support them without fully knowing the extent, the content, and even more importantly the justification of all the desired changes to current voting practices.

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