November 23, 2022

As the Dust Settles From Election Day, a Mixed Victory for Election Integrity Appears

While a number of states made strides in improving their election process through voter-approved referenda, others clearly did not.

Editor’s Note: This column was coauthored by Bradyn Lawrence.

The final results in the Nov. 8 elections heralded several important changes to state election-integrity laws across the country. While some of the initiatives, approved via ballot referendums, will improve the integrity of state elections, others are more invidious, making elections in those states more insecure.

One good result was Nebraska’s Initiative 432, which passed with overwhelming approval by almost 66% of Nebraska voters, demonstrating the continuing trend of voter favorability to commonsense ID requirements. Initiative 432 amends the state’s constitution to require photo ID for voting and authorizes the state legislature to implement the requirement. Nebraska joins a growing majority of states that require an ID to vote.

Ohio added a requirement that only citizens can vote in state and local elections. Issue 2, which prevents local government from authorizing voting by aliens, passed with over 77% of the vote. Louisiana will vote on a similar amendment on its Dec. 10 general election ballot, which would ban all aliens from registering to vote in the state.

Unfortunately, Massachusetts voters by a narrow 53.7 % margin unwisely failed to repeal a state law that prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles from asking individuals applying for driver’s licenses about their immigration status. Massachusetts provides driver’s license to all aliens, whether they are here legally or illegally. The state has also implemented automatic voter registration, which registers to vote anyone getting a driver’s license.

Had the law been repealed, the state would be able to stop the registration of aliens on the voter rolls. The combination of automatic voter registration with this foolish DMV regulation will lead to the dilution of citizens’ voting rights in the state and allow aliens to easily register and vote in violation of federal law.

Nevada’s Question 3 was approved by an even slimmer margin of 52.8% of Nevada voters. This referendum would amend the state constitution to restructure state elections by implementing open “top five” primaries and ranked choice voting for legislative, congressional and statewide elections. This restructuring will disenfranchise many voters and damage their associational rights with political parties.

Ranked choice voting requires voters to rank candidates on the ballot, from first to last. Not only is the proposal complicated and confusing, but in implementing it, voters are left bereft of an informed choice. Voters who fail to rank other candidates after their first choice are in danger of having their votes discounted entirely in subsequent recounts.

Although Nevada voters approved this change, it will not yet go into effect. Under Nevada law, such constitutional amendments must be approved by votes twice, so it will be on the ballot again in 2024.

In Connecticut, the state held a referendum on an amendment that would allow early voting in all elections in the state. Early voting, which has become a staple of elections during the COVID and post-COVID era, prevents voters from engaging in elections in a truly informed manner. For example, before the Pennsylvania senate candidates even had a chance to debate, many Pennsylvanians had already voted in the election. Despite an earlier rejection of the measure in 2014, the midterms saw Connecticut pass the measure by more than 100,000 votes, at 60.4%.

The worst of the state ballot referenda is Michigan’s Proposal 2 — deceptively worded to fool voters — which passed with 60% of the vote. Americans overwhelming support voter ID requirements, and the drafters of the proposal knew this when they wrote the proposal. After amending the state constitution to provide for a voter ID requirement, the proposal then said that anyone could still vote by simply signing a form claiming that they are who they say they are, circumventing the requirement entirely.

Furthermore, the proposal actually legalizes private contributions to election officials and election offices, allowing political donors to try to manipulate the administration of elections to favor their chosen candidates.

The Michigan proposal further authorizes unsecured drop boxes and prohibits anyone other than election officials from conducting audits. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the problem with allowing election officials to audit themselves. Michigan’s proposal benefits only the ambition of private and state actors who want our elections to remain insecure and open to corruption and fraud.

Another disappointment was the vote on Arizona’s Proposition 309, which appears to have lost by less than half a percentage point. 50.46% of the electorate voted against extending the states’ current voter ID requirement for in-person voting to absentee or mail-in ballots by requiring voters casting an absentee ballot to provide their voter ID number and date of birth. The Arizona legislature should address this issue given that so many voters in the state vote through the mail.

While a number of states made strides in improving their election process through voter-approved referenda, others clearly did not. Let’s hope the voters of states such as Michigan don’t have reason to regret those unwise choices in future elections.

Republished from The Heritage Foundation.

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