RNLA VP for Comms Audrey Perry Martin: "Here Are the Lessons We’ve Learned So Far From the 2020 Election"

The 2020 election cycle has been like one never before with a pandemic, civil unrest, and an unprecedented expansion of voting by-mail. RNLA Vice President Audrey Perry Martin argues in a recent article for The Daily Signal that there is a lot to learn from this year to make our election system stronger moving forward.

To start with, the article suggests that absentee ballots be sent in by Election Day:

First, states should require all absentee ballots be due by the close of polls on Election Day. (Not including military and overseas ballots, which are usually a small number.) This has been the cause of one of the biggest battles of the past few weeks, and litigation is likely to continue. 

It is understandable to want to count every mail-in ballot by Election Day, but it is just not practical. “Elections must end sometime, a single deadline supplies clear notice, and requiring ballots be in by Election Day puts all voters on the same footing,” stated Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in his concurring opinion to reject a trial court ruling that would have extended Wisconsin’s deadline to receive absentee ballots.

Furthermore, the article argues that the modification of election laws should take place through the process set by the U.S. Constitution:

Second, under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, only state legislatures have the authority to supervise presidential elections: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors … ”

Thus, the making and modifying of election laws should be left to state legislatures. Governors, election boards, and state or federal courts should not be making last-minute changes to state election statutes.  

This year in many states, partisans have taken advantage of the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic to bypass state legislatures and make last-minute changes to state election rules. Governors, secretaries of state, elections boards, and state supreme courts have all attempted to change the rules of the election, in clear contradiction of the Constitution.

Finally, the article notes the importance of keeping voter rolls up to date, especially in light of the expansion of voting by-mail.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, outdated voter rolls combined with mailing every registered voter a ballot is a recipe for disaster. Nevada has illustrated perfectly in 2020 why many are so adamant about cleaning up voter rolls. It is not to disenfranchise voters and remove eligible voters from the rolls. It is absolutely to ensure that only eligible voters can cast a ballot. 

Nevada’s state Legislature decided to send every registered voter a mail ballot—so did several other states. But Nevada is a battleground state, and its voter rolls are notoriously outdated.

As a result, you have many reports of deceased voters and voters who have moved out of state being sent mail ballots. Some voters received multiple ballots. Renters found previous tenants’ ballots in their mailboxes. Some of these ballots were allegedly filled out and returned. 

House Admin Committee Republicans have compiled election administration issues that have been experienced across the country this year:

Notoriously problematic Florida has showed how impactful election law reforms can be. The state has been hailed as having a model elections system after taking a hard look at its election laws after the infamous 2000 election and in the years that followed.