The president’s Wednesday morning tirade that Democrats are trying to steal the presidential election from him through their insistence that all citizens’ votes be counted demonstrates three things: First, his ignorance of states’ rights when it comes to administering elections. Second, his own attempt to steal this election by declaring certain uncounted votes invalid after midnight Election Day. This would seem to include late-arriving votes from men and women serving in our armed forces overseas. Or do their uncounted votes count more than, say, the uncounted votes of nurses or teachers or farmers or veterans here at home? Third, his glaring hypocrisy in the final analysis about whose uncounted votes count and whose don’t.
Some history: In debates over the Constitution and its subsequent, state-by-state ratification, the Founders heatedly debated states’ retaining rights to set laws administering elections. Some reasons were less than admirable: Many states wanted to control who got to vote and who didn’t; generally the rule favored white men who owned property to the exclusion of others. Some wanted to exclude people of certain faiths, for instance. The past several decades have eliminated many exclusionary aspects, but states still maintain the general right to run elections how they please. When Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill last year reforming election laws nationwide, Republican Congressman Bill Flores described it as “an attempt to federalize the states’ constitutional responsibilities to administer our elections.”
And so if some states decide to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day, even if received in the mail so many days later, and other states insist election administrators have all mail-in ballots in hand by Election Day, that’s up to each state.
The Republican president and his men indicated they wanted the counting of votes to stop in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, presumably because he was winning there and didn’t want as-yet-uncounted ballots from Democratic strongholds figured in the mix. On the other hand, the president exploded when Fox News projected Arizona a win for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden; the president could see that many votes remained uncounted, even after midnight, and he wanted those figured in the mix, no doubt betting he could still switch Arizona back into his column.
This newspaper shares the frustration of many voters. The wild disparity of protocols and laws governing elections in different states, and the regular change of those protocols and laws, would seem to render some voters more equal than others, particularly if they live in states that have more lax election laws that encourage voting. But, like the Electoral College, that’s our system in America, one that subscribes to the principle of states’ rights. For those with eyes to see, ears to hear and minds to think, the president’s desperate protestations batter this concept of states’ rights that so many of his supporters have fervently championed in the past. Barring intrusion by errant federal judges, that’s how it must be. Be patient, fellow Americans. Let the counting of fellow citizens’ votes continue. And let freedom ring.