Voting Rights Act of 2021. What would you put in this hypothetical Act?

We’ve been reading about all the different ways Trump, the Republican Party, Russia, China, etc. can / will screw with the election this fall. In this hypothetical, Biden has won a fairly close race (somewhere in the low 300s of EV), Democrats have taken the Senate with a 51-49 margin, and have slightly increased their margin in the House. As it turns out, the post-election analysis reveals that there was in fact cheating taking place, some of it directed by Trump and the Republican Party. It turns out that Biden should have won in a landslide and that the Senate should be 53-47 and the House margins even wider, to say nothing of state governments. The Democrats decide it’s time to prevent this from happening in the future, and a Voting Rights Act of 2021 is proposed. What would you all put in such legislation? Here are some of my ideas.

  1. Make Election Day a national holiday.

  2. Mandate a certain number of polling places per certain number of people, whatever the number would need to be so that the busiest places would no longer have lines past the typical poll closing times.

  3. Fix the funding for the USPS. This would include making it illegal for the postmaster to slow down mailings, close post offices, etc. around election time, with criminal penalties specified for violations.

  4. Set up some kind of automatic voter registration for all eligible voters.

What other ideas do you all have?

Voting by mail should be available everywhere, with postage paid return envelopes and plenty of time to vote; perhaps a month before election day. Set up a commission of computer scientists and others to vet voting machines and look for flaws that can be exploited to cheat in elections. Also provide funding so that states and municipalities can afford up-to-date secure voting machines.

Vote by mail ONLY. I live in Oregon and we’ve been doing this for over twenty years, trouble free. Polling places means lines and fuckery and those goddamned hackable-by-teenagers electronic machines so I say NO to all of that. Sorry for anyone who wants to do things the old way, because the old way sucks.

Another thing we do here is automatic voter registration. You actually have to fill out a form saying you DON’T want to be registered to vote. Any interaction with a governmental agency is going to trip off a check to make sure your registration exists and is current. Changing party affiliation or address is incredibly simple, online at the secretary of state’s website. This needs to be implemented nationwide, in a uniform manner. No purging of voters from the rolls unless there’s a death certificate.

I’d also entertain the notion of making voting mandatory. No ballot, get a ticket. I’m fucking sick and tired of putative adults shirking what is, basically, their only civic duty. Vote, you lazy shits.

And there’s NO justification for preventing the incarcerated from exercising their franchise. Especially in places where their presence is counted as part of the population for drawing district lines but they’re not allowed to vote on anything that affects them. Felons are still people, still citizens, and still entitled to cast their vote for representation and ballot issues.

That’s an interesting idea. If this was implemented, I think it would have to be with all races having a “none of the above” type option. If “none of the above” were to win, that would trigger another round of voting in which none of the previous candidates would be allowed to run.

Unless you’re a federal employee, making Election Day a national holiday won’t do much good. Washington’s Birthday is already a national holiday; how many people get that day off?

I agree - if every voter has the option of handing/mailing in a blank ballot, preferably with a space to mark on it to indicate that the voter voluntarily chose not to vote.
The right to vote includes the right not to vote.

My ideas:

  1. Have multiple days for the election, at least one of which is a Saturday.

  2. (This one may require a Constitutional amendment) In states with more than one House seat, have voting done by party rather than by candidate, then distribute the seats proportionally. To make sure every part of the state is represented, draw districts normally, then each party names a candidate for each district in the order in which the party wants the seats filled, and as each seat is distributed to a party, the top name on that party’s list in a district not already filled is elected.

If you’re willing to muck with the Constitution, then get rid of the Electoral College.

You could achieve much the same thing with the tenets of the proposed Fair Representation Act, which creates multi-member super districts and uses single transferable voting methods for determining the ultimate representatives. By doing so, the voting is effectively representative by party only you (the voter) also get to select your best choices of human beans. Bonus – it gives third parties a realistic chance to capture seats in Congress.

The problem with this is, these can still be gerrymandered. If the number of Representatives a party gets in a particular state is not based on votes in any part of the state, then it doesn’t really matter how the districts are drawn.

I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. But I don’t think I agree with your mathematical conclusions. I believe you and I have had much the same kind of misunderstandings in the college athletics “play for pay” thread.

In a 3-5 member super district, the parties will be represented proportionally in each district within the state. It doesn’t matter how you draw them up, the end result will be substantially the same.

The Constitution doesn’t mention political parties at all and I think it’s best that continues.

I don’t like that one. It assumes that all individuals running on a given party line are interchangeable, and that the only thing that matters is what party the representative is a member of. This upcoming USA election comes pretty close to having that being the main or even the only thing that matters, but not all elections are like that. Any party can run a total ass in a particular race, and I want the option to vote against that particular total ass or for a particularly excellent candidate, not just for Anybody X Party Felt Like Running.

– I’d get rid of the Electoral College and go to direct popular vote for POTUS, but keep the two-senators-per-state setup. The smaller states do need to not be ignored, but giving them representation in the Senate disproportionate to their population is IMO enough; I don’t think the people of low-population states also ought to have a disproportionate vote for POTUS.

And I’d allow the instant-runoff type of voting; so people could vote for their actual preferred candidate, but still have some say if the actual selection was going to come down to being between two other people. That might also give us viable third parties, which might improve the behavior of the current parties.

Paper trail flat out required for all voting. No black box voting machines with no possible evidence if problems occur. Vote by mail available to anybody who wants it; that ought to deal with the polling-place lines and hours problem. States can decide whether to also have in-person voting.

The only conviction that carries a penalty of permanently losing the right to vote is a conviction for serious voter fraud. Which isn’t voting in the wrong place by accident, but deliberately trying to steal votes or prevent legitimate voters from voting.

Some sort of effective anti-gerrymandering restrictions with teeth. I’m not sure how best to write this.

Hey, I’m fine with every ballot having a “Fuck all y’all” option at the bottom–but I want a signed ballot envelope for every registered adult in the country. I’m also okay with the opt-out option for Jehovah’s Witnesses and dementia patients and the like, I’m just tired of people only turning out every four years for presidential elections and ignoring midterms and local elections, because that really fucks things over on many levels.

Oh, forgot ranked choice voting too–instant runoff in every ballot, efficient and sensible.

Fuck the electoral college, too. It only exists because elitist white men didn’t want the “wrong people” to decide elections. Screw it.

It sounds like we’re saying the same thing, except that I am proposing a single “superdistrict” for each state, rather than, say, 20 districts in California, which can still be gerrymandered - not nearly as badly as having over 50 districts (and I remember California’s districts in the 1980s and 1990s), but it can be done.

Don’t worry about changing the “two Senators per state” system; that’s the one thing in the Constitution that cannot be changed - well, every state has to have the same number of Senators unless a state is willing to have fewer.

If the upcoming election takes a while to produce results, and nobody really has a problem with it, then “proper” instant runoff with paper ballots might become feasible. The problem with it is, it does take time to go through each “round” of voting if limited to paper ballots (which is how an all-mail election would work), especially with a large number of candidates, and limiting the number of votes each voter gets (IIRC, San Francisco uses this to elect its Board of Supervisors, but limits each voter to ranking three candidates) defeats its purpose.

As we saw in Louisville during the primaries, this isn’t necessary. People about lost their minds when they heard that there was going to be only one polling location in Louisville for 600,000 voters (because it really does sound like a logistical nightmare designed to suppress the vote of an urban population), but it turns out that combined with widespread early voting, it went relatively well.

HOWEVER, those who were held back in Louisville were held back because the hours were too short. Polls closed there at 6pm, which doesn’t give the person who gets off work at 5pm much time, especially if they work outside the city.

I’d be happy if a new VRA standardized poll hours, poll procedures, etc.

I wish there were an easy way to legislate how districts are drawn, and make the procedure as non-partisan as possible. But that’s going to be a battle that lasts as long as the republic.

A New York Times analysis says that three-quarters of Americans can vote by mail in this election. Which is not to say that voter suppression isn’t still a problem; it is, because those in the 25% who can’t may be in swing states, so it could still matter for the election.

Unfortunately, the constitution basically leaves the running of elections up to the states. The civil rights act uses the provision of the 14th amendment that authorizes congress to enforce the amendment. Then SCOTUS decided that since the states had stopped restricting votes the provision that they were not allowed to was unnecessary and thus authorized them to try again. Which they did.

If you are going to amend the constitution, get rid of the electoral college. Here in Quebec, election days are not legal holidays but every employee must get a 4 hour block to vote during the hours the polls are open (8AM to 8PM). Many offices respond by closing at 4PM. I would like to see instant runoff and all ballots are paper. Machines can be used to read them, but not for vote casting. The machines should be off-line and their software be published so that anyone could examine. If the companies don’t want to allow their software to be public, let them find another business. Congress should give the post office to allow ballots to be mailed postage-free and everyone should be allowed to vote by mail. And all districting should be done by independent commissions.

Australia has compulsory voting and I have heard no complaints about it. Since the ballot is secret, no one can know whether you actually voted. You can turn in a blank ballot or ruin your ballot in another way, but you must vote. Although the fine for not voting, at least when I was there in 1984, was only $10. I like that.

If you’re going to go as far as a Constitutional amendment, just make the right to vote a Constitutional right of every adult citizen. Much of the chicanery and voter suppression could be done away with if you could point to a Constitutional right that it infringes.

We’ve been gaining on it bit by bit; but just putting it in the Constitution doesn’t seem to be enough.

Amendment XV

Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XIX

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXIV

Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or any other tax.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXVI

Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified June 30, 1971.

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

A lot of the current chicanery and voter suppression probably falls under one or more of the above; in particular 15. The people doing it just argue that it doesn’t.

So, while an amendment clarifying that every citizen over 18 has the right to vote might remove such things as denying the right to felons, I doubt that it would solve everything. A lot of what’s going on is gerrymandering and differential availability and limited hours of polling stations, and I think they’d just keep arguing that of course they weren’t actually preventing anybody from voting – which, with the exception of the felons, is pretty much what they’re doing right now.

All votes should be equal. Nobody should be entitled to a bigger vote.

Voting should be a right. Disenfranchising anyone should only be done on an individual basis, at the end of a due process procedure, and should be held to a strict scrutiny legal standard.

I disagree. The problem with the voting amendments is that they are too narrow. Which means that ironically, it’s legal to prevent people from voting as long as you make sure to include a broad group of people in your purge.

For example, if I enacted a law that prevented young people from voting, it would be a violation of the 26th Amendment. But suppose I enacted a much broader law that prevented a much larger group of people from voting. My second law would prevent people of all ages from voting; so you couldn’t argue I was denying or abridging anybody’s right to vote “on account of age”.

The same would be true if I prevented black and white people from voting; I wouldn’t be denying them the vote on account of race. If I prevented men and women from voting, I wouldn’t be denying them the vote on account of sex. So denying one group of people the vote is unconstitutional while denying everyone the vote is legal.

What we should have is a universal right to vote that is held on an individual level. Not “the right of citizens” - it should be “the right of a citizen”.