(September 6, 2020 / JNS)
As storm clouds gather over America and chaos continues to spread in our cities, our culture and the history of our democratic process face dramatic challenges, both regarding our economic recovery and the perceived safety of voting in person. Here are some of those challenges facing us over the next two months:
1) Mail-in ballots may overwhelm USPS and precincts.
Although mail-in voting has been promoted as a safer way to cast our ballots, the system is untested on such a huge scale, and there is a fear that it will overwhelm the Post Office. The Post Office must not only deliver ballots to individual voters, they must then return the ballots to their respective precincts. More than 96 million ballots and mail solicitations have already been sent out and the sheer number of mailed-in ballots may overwhelm not only the Post Office, but the local vote counting systems as well. If that happens, there is the possibility that all the votes may not be counted in time to meet the Electoral College’s December 20th deadline, when the election results must be certified.
2) Voting lists full of unqualified voters.
The voting rolls are filled with names of people who are not citizens, who have moved away, who are deceased, or who are otherwise unqualified to vote. RealClearPolitics.com reports that voter registration rates exceed 100 percent of the adult population in 378 U.S. counties. Nineteen counties in five states—California, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia—have been warned that they could face federal lawsuits because they have failed to update voter rolls.
3) Censoring by social media.
Another challenge facing America is the perception that social media giants are censoring what they consider to be conservative political posts. A Pew Research Center survey conducted in June found that roughly 75 percent of adults in America consider it likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable, and suppress conservative voices. In addition, it found that nearly 51 percent of Americans say they approve of social media companies labeling posts from elected officials on their platforms as inaccurate or misleading, while only 46 percent said that they disapprove of this.
America is the leader of the free world, and both our democratic allies and enemy dictatorships are watching us closely. So it is urgent that we should address these issues in order to ensure the integrity of the electoral process before Nov. 3 and to show to the world that the American democratic process works.
This is what I suggest:
1) Voter guide on election rules.
The Constitution delegates the management of the elections to the states. However, the administration should provide guidance on how to best manage the electoral process within Constitutional norms. This should not be a partisan issue, but one that provides clarity and transparency to every voter, regardless of political leaning. A simple voting guide, defining perhaps 10 voluntary standards, should be provided to every state official responsible for the electoral process, and posted on the internet for the benefit of the voters. This guide would help voters understand what they should reasonably expect from a perfect electoral process.
Every one of the 50 states should then receive a “report card” which would grade their success in meeting those standards. This “report card” can be created by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and a small group of independent election experts. The results should be publicly announced a month prior to the elections, if at all possible, so that states might be able to address serious issues.
2) Temporarily federalize the National Guard to shut down the riots and protect voting rights.
The violent riots that are destroying entire neighborhoods in America’s cities must be stopped as soon as possible, before the elections. President Trump said he was ready to use 75,000 federal agents to quell the violence. The Insurrection Act gives him the authority to federalize the National Guard in every place where the violence has escalated to the point of destroying our cities and endangering the lives of the people who live there, when “any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law.” The Act was last used in 1992 immediately after the beginning of the Los Angeles riots. It is essential to take necessary action to restore law and order as quickly as possible. They should remain deployed until the crisis in America’s cities is over, and calm and safety have been restored.
3) Terrorist designation.
The Treasury, State Department, DOJ and DHS should follow through with the president’s recommendation, the U.S. Senate’s Resolution 279 and the “We the People’s” Petition to the president dated July 6, to designate Antifa and associated groups as domestic or international terrorist organizations. Their leaders and financiers should be investigated, including the legality of funding these violent riots, and their ability to fund them should be stopped, according to U.S. Code §2339C prohibition against financing terrorism.
4) Legal response to “defund the police.”
All cities and states that “defund the police” should be sued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for not protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens. All police officers in good standing who are fired or who resign because of “defund the police” policies, should be immediately hired by the U.S. Marshals.
5) Censorship on social media.
Social media giants have been accused of political bias and of censoring postings that they don’t agree with. According to The Hill: “Mainstream conservative content was strangled in real time, yet fringe leftists, such as the Young Turks, enjoy free rein on the social media platform.”
Conservatives are facing an uphill battle as the censorship by the big tech companies expands and the companies become increasingly powerful. To partially level the intellectual debating environment, a new law classifying social media platforms as broadcasters or news media should be passed, to update the antiquated law, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which gave immunity to any internet provider for content provided by a third party.
That law, which was passed long before social media became the communications powerhouse it is today, states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Under the proposed law, which would override this portion of the 1996 law, social media sites’ immunity would be revoked. It would make them liable for slander and defamation, and should include a prohibition against censorship under the First Amendment.
If these changes are not made quickly, we could have a long-contested election, marred by endless lawsuits and senseless violence, encouraged directly or indirectly by the radical left. If Donald Trump wins the election, history tells us that the Democrats would most likely spend the next four years claiming once again that his presidency is not legitimate, and that therefore they are entitled to “resist” the rule of law, just as Democrats in the south did before and after the Civil War.
If most of these changes are made soon, we may be able to curtail the chaos that is pervading the environment during this electoral season. A relative “calm” would enable us to genuinely debate the important issues of the day, focus on how best to protect American values and our way of life, and how to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Ken Abramowitz is the president and founder of SaveTheWest.