Good Luck

April 18th, 2021
L&T Opinions Page

earl watt mugL&T Publisher Earl Watt


While the political world is focused on the presidential outcome and the two Senate run-off elections coming up in Georgia, there are important reasons to look at the state level to see how two very important issues will be determined that could have a huge impact on elections moving forward.

The 2020 election has exposed the potential for mischief casting votes.

Locally, I posted a poll on our website to find out how the people think the Seward County Commission should address the rising number of coronavirus positive test results, and it was clear the honors system did not work. People were casting multiple votes, and I had to switch to another poll application that only allowed one vote per computer.

Many states had very loose policies on voting, and while nothing will ever be settled in this election, it is clear the rules need to be tightened for future presidential elections.

There will be calls of voter suppression, but asking someone to prove who they are before we elect the leader of the free world should be equally as important as buying a can of spray paint, which requires photo identification.

Republicans control both houses in 31 state legislatures, including the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, Georgia, Florida and Arizona. These states need to enact guidelines on presidential elections that prohibit mailing ballots to people who do not request them. They should also require human verification of signatures on ballots that are requested by the voter and then returned.

Basically, the Kansas system should be implemented in all of these states.

But the Democratic governors in these states would veto it.

Not so fast.

The Constitution doesn’t give governors a role in determining how the Electoral College works.

According to the Constitution, “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.”

If the Legislature establishes the process, the governor’s signature is not required. If that process requires a statewide election, then the Legislatures in each state, and the Legislatures alone, determine the process. There is no role for the governor, and the only role of the court is to determine if the process was actually implemented by the legislature.

Elections officials would have to follow whatever process the legislatures determine, not what the governor or even the secretary of state directs if it conflicts with the legislative directive.

While governors may have a role in how state elections occur, only the legislatures have the power to determine the process of allotting the votes for the Electoral College, and that could give them the backbone they need to clean up the mess that was exposed in this election.

Another key reason for partisan control of state legislatures in this cycle is reapportionment.

The Census has been counting for the last year just how many Americans we have, and it also will determine how many representatives each state will get when the 2022 elections take place.

Some states may see a decrease in population and lose a representative or two while others see gains.

Those also switch the number of Electoral votes each state receives.

Large states have a lion’s share of the electoral votes, but states like New York have seen population decreases in recent cycles, which has reduced their number of representatives and number of Electoral votes.

Once the Census is complete and each state finds out how many congressional districts they have, each state has to redraw the district lines to make sure each district has the same number of people.

With the U.S. population near 330 million, that means each representative will have a district with about 758,000 people.

In Kansas, that means the state would have about 3.8 representatives, which means the current four would remain.

The state legislatures in all but seven states determine the redistricting lines.

This is critical, because district lines can benefit areas that have higher concentrations of one party or another. By drawing the lines, legislators can make sure the redistricting does not harm one side more so than the other, and having Republican legislative control in 31 states, including most of the battleground states, will help prevent the process of gerrymandering. 

In New York, for example, Republican Donald Trump won 42 percent of the vote to Joe Biden’s 56 percent. That means Democrats had a 14 percentage point advantage.

But Democrats make up 78 percent of the congressional representation with an advantage of 21-6, showing that the 42 percent of Republicans are not equally represented, and that is usually how the lines are drawn by the Democratic legislature and approved by the Democratic governor.

This helps turn a 14-point advantage in the state into a 56-point congressional advantage.

Clearly, states with Democratic majorities are using it to give themselves additional representation. If states where Republicans can counter the advantage, they need to do it to balance the equation.

The process was once known as gerrymandering where unfair lines are drawn to overly favor one party over another, but how can New York be a state with a 14-point advantage for one party but a 56-point advantage on Congress? If that has been approved, then other states not only have the right to do the same but the obligation.

While attention is focused on the presidency, the true power is going to be settled at the state level in how these elections are conducted and how representation is apportioned.

It is critical for the future of the republic.

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