Democrats have lost the fight in the Senate for their two bills intended to assure the right to vote in federal elections.  The loss included a filibuster carve-out for these bills so that they could pass with a simple majority.

In an allegedly strategic move, the Senate leadership orchestrated several losing votes on the theory that putting Republicans on the record in opposition is a boon to Democrats in the 2022 campaign.


What did go on the record is that the Democrats lost and the Republicans won.

As these losing votes approached, less comprehensive voter legislation was broached by a bipartisan group of Senators. The Democratic leadership swatted down these initiatives as “inadequate.”  What the Democrats appear to fear is  Republican votes “for” voting rights, albeit in  a diluted version.

Also nonsense.

The existing statute that the bipartisan group wants to amend is the Electoral Count Act of 1887, and not a moment too soon. This poorly drafted statute arose as a result of the chaotic Tilden-Hayes election. This was the statute that Trump and his supporters used on January 6 to subvert the 2020 election because the vice-president is authorized to preside at a joint session where the electoral votes are received.

The ECA that is now being proposed omits the vice president and does a lot more. Who doesn’t want that?  Should ECA in its present form survive, guess who will preside at the 2025 joint session where the 2024 electoral votes are received? That Republican fave, Vice President Kamala Harris!!

The ECA deals with the fact that electors for president elect the president, not a direct vote of the voters. There is (slim to) no chance of changing that. So the next best thing is to reform ECA. Let’s hope that a revised ECA passes (it will).

Not mentioned very much is an existing statute, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). This legislation is the result of the difficulties with the 2000 election. It has features that are especially important as eighteen states have Big Lie supporters running for secretary of state, the state official charged with election administration.

As I wrote on August 3, 2020, HAVA creates a comprehensive method and detailed procedures for supervising federal elections.

The act creates a U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to administer HAVA. HAVA, as administered by EAC, sets strict standards for voting systems, provisional voting and computerized statewide registration lists.

Title three of HAVA, for example, calls for “uniform and nondiscriminatory election technology and administration.”

If you know about this statute, it’s certainly not because of the media. They are interested in what Leader Schumer had for breakfast and can’t be bothered with actual research and reporting (for the most part).

And here’s my favorite section of HAVA. Section 401 empowers the Attorney General to bring civil actions in federal courts for both declaratory (often before the fact) and injunctive relief to enforce the statute’s “election technology and administration requirements.”

In plain English this means that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland can sue a state before and after a federal election if the state does not meet statutory standards.

I call to your attention that no matter what happens in the 2022 and 2024 elections, president Biden will be in office until noon on January 20, 2025 and so will his attorney general. And any possible Republican congress can legislate election bills all it wants, but president Biden is not signing.

The dangers we face in the coming elections are voter suppression and vote subversion.

The ECA can cause vote subversion by creating the possibility of meddling, of making two and two equal three. It must be changed.

And an enforced, and perhaps strengthened, HAVA can be key to stemming both voter suppression and vote subversion.

A Democratic Senate conference previously unwilling to take half a loaf  must now support a new ECA and HAVA. And it will!