Posted by DrJohn on 25 August, 2022 at 5:26 am. 2 comments already!

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The Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform

The 2005 bipartisan Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, led by Democrat President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican who served in the George H.W. Bush administration, analyzed the US election system and made recommendations to preserve election integrity. Unfortunately, many states failed to heed the results of the commission’s findings and enact the recommended changes into law.  Those 87 recommendations still hold true, among them these seven key principles:

1) Increase voter ID requirements.

2) Be leery of mail-in and absentee voting risks and halt ballot harvesting.

3) Avoid duplicate registration across state lines and maintain voter lists.

4) Allow election observers to monitor ballot processing for integrity.

5) Use reliable voting machines and be sure they are working properly.

6) Stop the media from calling elections.

7) Prosecute voter fraud.

According to Carter-Baker Commission member Kay C. James, now the president of the Heritage Foundation, “So many of the problems we’re now hearing about in the aftermath of the 2020 election could have been avoided had states heeded the advice of the Commission on Federal Election Reform,” she said.

Simple protections against fraud, like voter ID and updated voter registration lists, make perfect sense if we truly believe that every vote must count. Election officials should take another look at the commission’s recommendations and make sure they’re doing everything possible to protect the integrity of our elections.

The commission was created to address voting and election integrity issues raised by the tumultuous 36-day postelection battle of 2000, which was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court decision that resulted in awarding Florida’s 25 electoral votes and the presidency to Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore.

Had Congress and state governments adopted many of the panel’s recommendations, the 2020 postelection mess between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden might have been avoided, said Carter-Baker Commission member Kay C. James, now the president of The Heritage Foundation.

Several state legislatures adopted aspects of the recommendations, particularly voter ID proposals. However, Congress reportedly was unenthusiastic about the report.

Major media outlets have called the race for Biden, but election litigation is still playing out in courts, and votes are still being counted.

However, 70% of Republicans do not believe the 2020 election was free and fair, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll. Before the election, just 35% of Republicans didn’t believe the election would be free and fair. The shift was different among Democrats, where 95% believed the election was free and fair afterward, compared with 52 who said the same before the election.

1) Voter IDs

With the vast expansion of mail-in voting this year, voter ID requirements were less likely.

Today, states have a patchwork of voter ID laws, with 36 states either requiring or requesting voters to present identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The conference says only six states have “strict” photo ID requirements—Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

The Carter-Baker Commission called for voter ID standards nationwide in its 2005 report.

“To ensure that persons presenting themselves at the polling place are the ones on the registration list, the Commission recommends that states require voters to use the REAL ID card, which was mandated in a law signed by the President in May 2005,” the Carter-Baker Commission report said.

“The card includes a person’s full legal name, date of birth, a signature (captured as a digital image), a photograph, and the person’s Social Security number. This card should be modestly adapted for voting purposes to indicate on the front or back whether the individual is a U.S. citizen. States should provide an [Election Assistance Commission]-template ID with a photo to non-drivers free of charge.”

Carter, when speaking months after the release of the report, said other countries not known for being examples of democracy had fairer elections than the United States, and stressed the need for photo IDs.

“It’s disgraceful and embarrassing,” the former president said in May 2006. On IDs, Carter said, “Americans have to remember you have to have the equivalent to what we’re requiring to cast a ballot to cash a check or board a plane.”

2) Mail-In and Absentee Voting Risks

In a brief filed supporting the Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania litigation over mail-in ballots, a group of Republican state attorneys general reference the Carter-Baker Commission report among other items regarding mail-in voting and ballot harvesting.

The 2020 election trends seemed to shift dramatically as mailed-in votes were counted. Further, many questions have emerged about the point of origin for ballots.

Specifically, the report called on states to prohibit third parties or political operatives from collecting ballots—a practice commonly known as “ballot harvesting.”

The report stated: “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”

“State and local jurisdictions should prohibit a person from handling absentee ballots other than the voter, an acknowledged family member, the U.S. Postal Service, or other legitimate shipper, or election officials,” the 2005 commission report said. “The practice in some states of allowing candidates or party workers to pick up and deliver absentee ballots should be eliminated.”

However, this year, as mail-in voting veered into becoming a partisan issue, the Carter Center issued a statement promoting support for mail-in voting, but maintaining safeguards against ballot harvesting.

The Carter Center, founded by the former president and first lady Rosalynn Carter, is affiliated with Emory University and promotes peace and democracy efforts globally and domestically.

Carter Center press release in May said the commission report “noted among its many findings and recommendations that because it takes place outside the regulated environment of local polling locations, voting by mail creates increased logistical challenges and the potential for vote fraud, especially if safeguards are lacking or when candidates or political party activists are allowed to handle mail-in or absentee ballots.”

“However, the Carter-Baker Commission found that where safeguards for ballot integrity are in place—for example in Oregon, where the entire state has voted by mail since 1998—there was little evidence of voter fraud,” the Carter Center statement continued.

The commission’s main recommendations on vote-by-mail and absentee voting were to increase research on vote-by-mail (and early voting) and to eliminate the practice of allowing candidates or party workers to pick up and deliver absentee ballots.  

Fortunately, since 2005, many states have gained substantial experience in vote-by-mail and have shown how key concerns can be effectively addressed through appropriate planning, resources, training, and messaging.

Carter himself is quoted in the press release saying, “I urge political leaders across the country to take immediate steps to expand vote-by-mail and other measures that can help protect the core of American democracy—the right of our citizens to vote.”

And there’s more you can check out

3) Avoiding Duplicate Registration Across State Lines
4) Election Observers for Integrity
5) Reliable Voting Machines
6) Media Calling Elections
7) Prosecuting Voter Fraud

The next time you hear a liberal whining about voter suppression stick this where appropriate. This was as bipartisan as it gets. The John Lewis act is the polar opposite of this. It would shred all vestiges of integrity of the vote.

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