Last year, the Public Interest Legal Foundation alerted the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to an alarming fact: the state’s voter rolls contained at least 21,000 dead registrants, some of whom had died more than twenty years ago. According to the records, hundreds of these dead registrants had votes recorded in the 2016 and 2018 elections.
The Foundation sued the Pennsylvania Department of State. In a settlement reached just last week, the department agreed to remove the names of dead voters, implement procedures to identify registrants who have died and keep the Foundation apprised of its ongoing efforts to keep the voter rolls honest.
I wonder when former President Obama will tweet out his congratulations for this win for voting rights?
Of course, that question is a rhetorical one because while Obama frequently weighs in on such election issues, he does so with a complete lack of understanding of election integrity and law.
While Obama frequently weighs in on such election issues, he does so with a complete lack of understanding of election integrity and law.
He recently tweeted congratulations to Major League Baseball “for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens.” He apparently approves of the league removing the All-Star Game from Atlanta due to dubious complaints about Georgia’s voting law. Putting aside the hypocrisy of someone with a net worth of $70 million who will not be affected by the crushing economic loss of moving this beloved sporting event, I was struck by Obama’s apparent ignorance of how voting laws should work.
By summarily condemning Georgia’s election law, Obama and others who jumped on similarly high horses, dismiss a basic tenet of voting rights: making sure an individual’s vote does not become diluted by one that should have not been cast. Tweeting out vague and misguided platitudes might garner headlines and retweets but real election reform requires thoughtfulness and legal prudence.
In a participatory democratic republic such as ours, the sanctity of voting rights cannot be understated. States attempt to protect those rights by drafting election laws aimed at preventing fraud and malfeasance. If our election laws are poorly drafted or not followed, we open the door to mistakes, irregularities and even fraud. And when that happens, taking back a vote that should not have been placed in the ballot box can perhaps be compared to dismantling a cake after it has been baked.
The Georgia election law controversy highlights an important but sad reality: those who squawk the most about protecting elections are usually the most ill-informed.
Lawyers who devote their practices to election integrity and voting rights issues toil away to make sure states maintain their voter rolls and follow the law. The general public might think election lawyers only come out of hiding for highly publicized, contested elections. But the reality involves maintaining the fight for fairness 365 days per year.
The Georgia election law controversy highlights an important but sad reality: those who squawk the most about protecting elections are usually the most ill-informed. I would even hazard a guess that Obama, like the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, never read the Georgia law or could even explain exactly what voting rights it supposedly endangered. Meanwhile, the Public Interest Legal Foundation claimed a monumental victory that actually protects real, live voters from having their vote diluted. I will take that as a stand on behalf of citizens over Major League Baseball’s silly virtue signalling any day.
Linda A. Kerns is an attorney and a co-founder of Broad + Liberty. She is Pennsylvania counsel to the Public Interest Legal Foundation and its president, J. Christian Adams. Along with Bradley J. Schlozman and John Eastman, she secured the settlement discussed in this piece. She can be reached at email@example.com. @lindakernslaw.