A New Weapon in Voting Wars: Legislative Attacks on Electoral Officials

Earlier this year, Lincoln County, Georgia made national news trying close six polling stations, leaving its 7,000 residents only one place to vote. What hasn’t gotten enough attention are election administrators in Georgia’s 158 other counties. They also shrunk, like remove Sunday vote in Spaulding County and no funding a new district in a black neighborhood in Hogansville, Troup County. Such decisions will become more heartbreaking and more frequent as election officials address the new and onerous requirements of Georgia’s anti-election law and shrinking budgets.

These burdens have generated sympathy for local election officials and have stimulated efforts to do so to provide them with more protection and support. But supporting and protecting non-partisan county officials in Georgia and across the country isn’t enough when politicians spreading disinformation target election administrators, turning them into scapegoats for whatever goes wrong.

Last year, Atlanta state lawmakers slashed election funds and imposed requirements on county electoral administrators such as printing expensive ballot papers and “count to death” provisions that deny weary election officials. bones the ability to pause the count to eat or rest. Additionally, Georgia’s new law affects election officials struggling to meet these burdensome requirements. State lawmakers and county commissions are sanctioned not only for investigating election officials, but also for taking up their duties.

It is not just election officials in Georgia who are under siege. Florida Other Arizona have passed similar restrictions on private election donations, often an essential source of funding for election administration. TexasThe radical anti-voter law creates a torrent of unnecessary paperwork for those assisting voters with disabilities. The law passed by the Republicans also establishes a disciplinary mechanism for local election administrators, fining a county of $ 1,000 per day if it fails to meet the results of an expensive audit.

Walking this tightrope to compliance is difficult, perhaps impossible, because it is designed to be. The restrictions are designed to prevent election administrators from running ballot access programs that would help populations – people of color, students, voters with limited English and people with disabilities – to vote more easily. The strange requirements create confusion and chaos that can only be called voter suppression.

There are three points from these burdens placed on election officials.

First, county election officials will never get the resources or protection they need until we tackle the barriers that all voters, especially black voters, face.

Second, we must recognize that it is voter repression when local election officials are hindered or even replaced to hinder voters in different communities. Supporters should sound the alarm about efforts to limit voting. Local elected officials should support their electoral administrators.

Nobody understands this better than election officials themselves and they are fighting. In the 2022 legislative session of Georgia, county officials remained united against yet another election bill that would reduce the number of voting machines per district, cut funding flows to county election officials, and create obstacles for administrators to count and manage ballots. Due largely to the defense of election officials, the bill was reduced to a single provision that grants the Georgia Bureau of Investigation additional authority to investigate election-related crimes.

Washington lawmakers also need to understand this. We need federal legislation that addresses the changed voter crackdown tactics of 2022. Right now, our electoral infrastructure rides and dies on unannounced electoral administrators across the country.

Third, these anti-voter tactics should invite scrutiny, not deference, by the courts.

Repeatedly, politicians have broken through barriers to voting on the basis of misinformation fabricated to undermine confidence in the 2022 elections. It would be difficult to find a relationship between the provisions of these bills and their alleged goals. Georgian law delete weeks of official election preparation time for the ballot Other establishes a cruel mandates that the electoral administrators “will not cease such counting and tabulation until all these ballots are counted and tabulated”. This one-two punch leaves election officials sleep-deprived and dissuades potential voters from taking the job.

These provisions do nothing to improve election administration; they only create barriers to voting that harm communities of color and other voters who are often deprived of civil rights.

Yet federal courts defer the administration of elections to states on the basis of false promises. Since the Supreme Court ruling in Crawford v. Marion County Electoral Council in 2008, which loosened judicial scrutiny of states’ motives when they passed voting restrictions, federal courts slipped into state submission.

Take, for example, the Refusal of the 11th Circuit of a challenge to the Alabama voter identity law last spring. The ruling did not analyze whether voter IDs ensure that correct votes are cast for the correct voters. Instead, it fell back on some cases of absentee ballots that were incorrectly cast more than two decades ago. Less than a year ago, the Supreme Court followed suit, upholding Arizona’s logic of “deter[ring] potential fraud and improvisation[ing] voter confidence ”as“ irresistible interest[s]”While giving brief attention to the fact that the provision in question dissuaded him at all.

The judiciary must see these new electoral laws as attacks on the right to vote. It must examine the facts and the application of these laws and discern the right to vote constitutionally protected from the illicit manipulation of the right to vote. Voting rights organizations must denounce barriers and disinformation wherever they appear.

The assault on county electoral administrators is part of a plan that weakens the franchise. Once the barriers to voting are uncovered, we must not only dismantle them, but also anticipate the ever-changing ways in which states can attack the right to vote. The key to protecting the franchise is that the judiciary refuses to validate the requirements of the electoral laws that make it more difficult to vote.