116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
I think it is Biblical wisdom. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In an unholy, undemocratic frenzy, Republican-led legislatures in 14 states, including Iowa, have been at work fixing our election system which has been functioning just fine — honestly, accurately, and quickly. The system is not broken.
There is no narrow or widespread voter fraud in our country. Despite that fact, Donald Trump continues his delusion that he won, and Democrats hijacked his victory. He refused to attend Joe Biden’s swearing in, the traditional way we demonstrate the peaceful transfer of power. The most generous word to describe Trump’s claim, and his behavior, is “crazy.” Worse than that, various polls have shown that at least half of Republicans (some polls as high as 75 percent) still believe the election was rigged.
Rigged, stolen, fraud — it is the endless mantra heard in conservative legislatures around the country. Repetition replaces proof. Unfortunately, they go beyond words to action that makes it harder to vote. That ignores our history.
As our democracy began, male white landowners had the vote and that was it. Only later did those who owned no property, were female or Black get the vote. It was a struggle, not easy or quick, but an effort to include, not exclude.
Ironically, those who were here when the Mayflower docked were made citizens and voters finally in 1924. Simply, we showed the world that our democracy was inclusive: rich and poor, men and women, Black, white, brown, and red, Ph.D.s and those who never started kindergarten.
Through the course of our history, in election after election, with rare and localized exceptions, no one seriously challenged the validity of elections, no one shouted about “widespread voter fraud.” We made a good thing better, improving and expanding the process. We made voting easier with early and mail-in voting, convenient polling places, longer hours. More voting, more democracy at work: a simple equation. Until now.
Often with the exact same words, always with the same intent, conservative legislators are defiling their own conservative history and traditions. The Brennan Center for Justice, a think tank named after a Republican appointed Supreme Court justice, but unquestionably non-partisan, has said, “State lawmakers have enacted nearly two dozen laws since the 2020 election that restrict ballot access, cut voting hours, shift polling places and eliminate some. …. Most of the new laws make it harder to vote absentee and by mail, after a record number of Americans voted by mail in 2020.”
Voter fraud in Iowa is less likely than the Mississippi flowing north. Yet Gov. Kim Reynolds piously proclaimed, “It is our duty to protect the integrity of every election.” No one would disagree with that and every governor, of both parties, has successfully done so throughout our state’s history.
Here are the new “protections”: cut the hours an employee can get off to vote from three hours to two, drop the hour of closing by one hour, cut the days for registering and the period for mailing in a ballot. To top it off, the law criminalizes some actions by county auditors which they have never been guilty.
Our elections “ain’t broke.” The governor and her legislative buddies should stop “fixing” it. That is a real voting fraud.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary, and authored a memoir “From Nowhere to Somewhere.”