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Friday, October 07, 2016

Decentralize The Elections

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
~ Joseph Stalin

The federal government is making a move in the direction of further centralizing the administration of elections nationwide. The justification this time around is stated to be danger of Russian hackers who, we are told, will compromise election results. As if so often the case in debates about federal control, it is assumed that the federal government can do things with greater competence and more professionalism than any state government. The refrain is likely to soon be: "Hey states, running elections is so hard. Why not let us do it all for you?" At the moment, the feds are only offering "help" with voter registration systems. Even the feds admit hacking state-level election systems is very difficult. But, none of us should be surprised when the feds in the future start talking about the need to "modernize" election systems by centralizing them.
The Member States Have Historically Controlled Elections

Most Americans probably assume that elections are now and always have been, constitutionally, the domain of the federal government. But, this has never been the case. The Federal Election Commission wasn't even created until 1975, and even now, the FEC's power is limited primarily to regulating campaign finance, and not elections.

The federal takeover of elections, to the extent that it has been successful, has primarily been carried out by the courts,with the Supreme Court and other federal courts handing down decisions to states in regards to how elections must be conducted.

The courts have, for example, long intervened to prevent state governments from requiring that voters provide proof of citizenship or even proof of identity in order to vote. It is, apparently, a human rights violation to require that voters are who they say they are.

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