Several political science and government professors across the country have signed a statement of concern released by think tank New America on the state of democracy in the US.
The statement appears to be a call for stricter standards on national voting and election administration, particularly in the wake of a slew of state voter suppression bills inspired by former President Donald Trump’s accusations of rigged presidential elections.
Concern Over ‘Republican-Controlled Legislatures’
The statement highlights how “Republican-controlled legislatures” give the party power to “override electoral outcomes due to unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes.”
Tactics include restricting access to the ballot, implementing criminal sentences and fines to intimidate poll workers and nonpartisan administrators, and curtailing voting measures such as early voting and mail-in ballots preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies.
“Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote,” they said.
They added that the state legislators responsible for supporting these changes often use electoral integrity as a reason, citing the need to ensure that the elections are secure and free of fraud.
“But by multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud,” the statement argued. “The reason that Republican voters have concerns is because many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s own lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges.”
They also called out the inability of elected Republican leaders to denounce Trump and his “Stop the Steal” crusade, particularly after the violent attack on the US Capitol earlier this year.
Call for Comprehensive Voting Laws and Standards
The statement calls for national standards that allow all voters to “freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics,” and for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan in nature.
“When democracy breaks down, it typically takes many years, often decades, to reverse the downward spiral. In the process, violence and corruption typically flourish, and talent and wealth flee to more stable countries, undermining national prosperity,” they warned, “It is not just our venerated institutions and norms that are at risk — it is our future national standing, strength, and ability to compete globally.”