According to the commission, the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) this week released a comprehensive report on the best practices states can embrace to make it “easier to vote and harder to cheat” in U.S. elections. The release of the report comes as radical Democrats in Congress continue the “For the People Act,” which would strip states of their power to manage their own elections and implement basic election safeguards — such as voter ID — effectively nationalizing the process.
Earlier this year, the RSLC, the GOP’s committee arm, announced the establishment of a commission aimed to put forth legislative solutions from state to state to ensure the integrity of elections moving forward, particularly in the wake of the controversial 2020 presidential election and the doubts it sowed across the country in the following days.
The committee, co-chaired by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) and former Michigan Secretary of State and Michigan Senator Ruth Johnson (R), released its report, which commission members and Republican secretaries of state helped craft. It aims to “present a non-exhaustive sampling of state provisions and policies on elections administration and integrity measures.” The ideas listed are not necessarily new, already embraced by some states. However, the commission encourages other states to take note, framing the report as “merely the beginning of a conversation in considering a sampling of current state provisions and innovations that may be useful in the future.”
The report is split into three primary sections. The first involves the pre-election period, which focuses on five specific topics:
- Voter Registration
- Pre-Election Testing
- Paper Ballots
- Ballot Tabulation
- Voter ID
According to the commission, accuracy of voter rolls is key, and any successful administration requires an accurate and current voter registration list with opportunities to register to remain widely available. Forty states, the commission notes, currently utilize online voter registration, though states may consider a deadline for accepting applications. The commission also stresses the importance of voter rolls accuracy, noting that they should “match death records with vital statistics,” as an example.
Additionally, the commission recommends testing voting equipment prior to an election and places an emphasis on paper ballots providing a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT), which allows election officials to “have physical records against which they can test and verify tabulation results.”
The commission also devotes a section to ballot tabulation, noting that states may consider “minimum requirements for a voting tabulator; where and how frequently paper ballots are scanned if using an optical/digital scanner; and if using a DRE machine, whether it should come with a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT). Ensuring a paper trail for every vote cast in America promotes ballot security.”
Finally, the commission identifies voter ID as a basic security measure to “increase confidence in voter registration accuracy by deterring voter impersonation.
The RSLC’s second section is devoted to the voting period, where it focuses largely on practices related to universal vote by mail, signature verification, and Election Day in-person voting.
While the commission recognizes that five states currently embrace vote-by-mail, it stresses that security measures must be implemented to “inspire public confidence that all eligible voters receive the correct ballots, that each returned ballot was voted by the voter to whom it was issued, and that only one ballot is counted for each eligible voter.”
Much of that hinges on voter registration data staying up to date with clean voter rolls, excluding nonresidents, noncitizens, and those who have died. The state department of motor vehicle licensing or the Social Security Administration should verify the information, per the commission.
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Regardless of the safeguards, however, the commission does not recommend a state moving to a full vote-by-mail system “unless a state or local jurisdiction reaches a 60% threshold of voters with ongoing absentee ballot status, and maintains that threshold for two federal election cycles.”
“States with the most experience conducting elections by mail found the successful full conversion to vote-by-mail takes between five and ten years to implement,” the report reads.
Signature verification, the RSLC said, is a key tool to prevent voter impersonation, and the incorporation of poll watchers helps prompt “transparency and confidence” in the process.
Additionally, the RSLC identifies Election Day in-person voting as “the gold standard.”
Voting period sections include:
- Absentee Voting
- Early In-Person Voting
- Universal Vote by Mail
- Signature Verification
- Election Day In-Person Voting
- Poll Watchers
- Voting Centers
The final section focuses on post-election practices — reconciling, auditing, certifying, and “if necessary,” recounting an election. The section includes:
- Funding of Elections
- Voter Engagement
- Poll Officials
Audits, the commission continues, must be “uniformly applied across all jurisdictions within the state,” though the commission says states should consider which type of audit may be most successful. States should also consider parameters to trigger automatic recounts.
Further, the commission says funding from nongovernment sources “must be prohibited” in order to “prevent outside non-government individuals or organizations from unduly influencing election administration.”
“Rather than mandating a dangerous federal takeover of our elections system like the Democrats who control Washington are now pushing, our commission understands that action to restore confidence in our elections needs to be taken at the state level, as the Constitution grants the important responsibility of administering our elections to the states,” Alabama Secretary of State and commission co-chair John Merrill said in a statement, identifying the report as a “critical roadmap for policymakers in states that are looking for ideas on how to make their elections more free and fair.”
“It’s our hope that each state can tailor these suggested practices to their specific needs so we can make it easier to vote and harder to cheat across the nation,” he added.
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