In the wake of calls for election audits, voter ID laws and-wait for it-the January 6 riot, 22 state attorneys general have sent a letter to Congress asking it to pass federal election protection laws. The letter, sent via email on the letterhead of Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, bears the signatures of just about everyone you would expect. Along with Kaul, AGs from Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, California Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont all signed. Not many surprises there.
They come out swinging. The letter starts with the “attempt by the then-sitting President of the United States, assisted by certain state elected officials, to steal a presidential election. ” It goes on to say, in a suitably melodramatic fashion, that the “peril to our democracy did not end on Inauguration Day.” It states that legislation to fight voter suppression and prevent the subversion of elections is vital to democracy. And normally I would agree. But I don’t think the AGs and I are on the same page.
The letter goes on to recap their efforts to ensure that everything was above board for the 2020 election and mentions their heroic efforts to, and I quote, “defended democracy by opposing the effort of 18 states to overthrow the presidential election results.”
The letter argues that without the requested legislation, the safeguards that worked to keep Trump and friends from overturning the election would no longer be available to protect the voters. They go on to note that after Trump failed to “steal” the election (I’m seeing a theme, here), REPUBLICANS (of course) are now trying to undermine the electoral process. I’m not going to recap the whole letter. The link is at the top and here. Congress members Joaquin Castro and Marc Veasey sent a very similar letter the day before to Merrick Garland at the Department of Justice, bemoaning the state of voting rights in Texas. They refer to Senate Bill 7 in the Texas legislature as the “omnibus voter suppression bill.” That isn’t even creative. You know, if you are going to feign righteous outrage and clutch your pearls, at least do it with a little style. Omnibus voter suppression bill just sounds melodramatic. At least try, will ya?
I’m not going to go into the January 6 riot . Or, as they call it, an insurrection. “Insurrection,” of course, draws more horrified looks than words like “riot” or “mostly peaceful protest.” I’m so sick of January 6 that I’m going to write my legislators to see if it can be officially removed from the calendar. As an ex-Democrat, I understand their penchant for drama. I just wish the average low-information voter could do the same.
Melodrama aside, the letter would be more convincing if the signatories were actually concerned about free and fair elections that reflected the will of the voters, and not just the left-leaning ones. They literally accuse Trump of trying to steal an election, but are they concerned with keeping members of their own party from doing the same?
When the Patriot Act was passed, a common refrain was that if you had nothing to hide, you had nothing to fear from the government looking through your emails, browsing history, etc. If that is indeed the case, what do the Democrats have to fear from election audits? If you want to shut up everyone claiming that the election was stolen, audits can go a long way to cooling their jets. What better way to settle the issue?
Perhaps what it most disturbing about this letter is the number of attorneys general who are so eager to turn their states’ rights over to the federal government. Federalism works specifically because there are certain things that only the states have the power to do. And convinced that the United States will become forever blue, these officials are begging DC to do their jobs for them. And that alone should give the residents of those states sufficient cause for alarm.