Elections "Make or Break" at the Local Level

The Left continues to incessantly attack newly-signed election laws in Georgia and Iowa which fall well within the mainstream. Despite this seeming obsession with state election reforms, they routinely ignore one the most important components of the new laws—they hold local election officials accountable for their election administration failures. As the RNC's Chief Counsel, Justin Riemer, explained in a recent op-ed, how elections are managed at the local level "make or break" them: 

[L]ess discussed are parts of the laws that hold to account and punish poor local election management practices.

These specific reforms may well have a bigger impact in improving elections, but you won't hear Democrats talking about them. After all, that would discredit their federal takeover attempt with H.R. 1 and force them to criticize their local politicians. As a former state election official in Virginia, I learned that much of what makes or breaks an election is how well elections are managed at the local level. Take the issue of long lines. The tedious work of choosing precinct boundaries and the right polling locations is key to ensuring that voters don’t overwhelm a voting location on Election Day. Lines will swell if local officials don’t properly recruit or train poll workers or if they’re unable to troubleshoot malfunctioning voting equipment. And if a local government is too cheap to pay for enough voting machines, then you won’t have the numbers of ballot scanners to keep voters moving through the polls. Systemic yet avoidable failures in these areas are what cause notorious around-the-block lines in places such as Georgia.

The state certainly has an important role, but, like schools, police, and other government services, our elections are largely administered and funded locally. Nearly all of the local officials I worked with were competent and hard-working, but there were exceptions that led to problems that would stain the perception of an election statewide. Unfortunately, the state Board of Elections had little power other than to bring the local officials in for a stern warning. Other local election officials would also coalesce to oppose any legislation that might empower the state to discipline or replace incompetent officials. Lack of accountability was a bipartisan concern.

As reported by Fox News this past weekend, H.R.1, also known as the "Corrupt Politicians Act," would undo the important reforms being made at the state level:

"H.R. 1 is nothing short of a hostile takeover by Democrats to federalize our state and local elections," a memo by General Counsel for the RNC Kyle Hupfer read. "All Americans should be alarmed by this power grab."  

H.R. 1, the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation, touches on many aspects of the voting process. It would require states to automatically register eligible voters, as well as offer same-day registration. It would limit states’ ability to purge registered voters from their rolls and restore former felons’ voting rights. Among dozens of other provisions, it would also require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting.

Hupfer, who is also the Indiana Republican Party Chair, alleged that if the bill is passed, it would allow Democrats to force through a "wholesale takeover of state election laws" by eroding state voter ID laws and requiring states to adopt automatic voter registration, among other items.

States should be commended for their efforts to make common sense reforms to elections . The integrity of our elections is a crucial and reforms should be made at the state, not the federal level.