Posted by Zachary Lucanie.
Historically, presidential elections have brought Americans to their feet as they stand behind their candidate to hold the highest position in American politics. Given that the president is elected once every four years it is important to many Americans that the office is held by the candidate that will solve the issues most prevalent to them. One of the great privileges that an American has is the Constitutional right to vote, with the Fifteenth Amendment ensuring that every vote counts no matter what ones race or skin color. With that, there are still many Americans that pay no mind to elections and abstain from voting. The circumstances have changed, however, in the current presidential election between Republican nominee, Donald Trump, and Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. Many feel that this election has broader implications for the country and that the electing of the wrong candidate could leave the country in turmoil. Along with protesting and campaigning on behalf of their candidate, Americans feel the best way to stop the candidate that they disagree with is to get out and vote. This has brought many voters, some who have never voted before, out to the polling booths which was seen in the primaries. Now, as we close in on Election Day and as voters begin preparing to elect their candidate, many individuals are beginning to question the legitimacy of the voting process. Although this is occurring in states all over the country, there are disputes occurring in swing states especially due in part to the potential weight that their vote could hold. Whether the claims hold legitimacy is not clear cut and many have turned to the law to rectify the issues they see in the voting process.
One state that is experiencing legal trouble is Texas, where voting-rights advocates have pointed out to state officials that “several counties opened the state’s early voting period October 24th with incorrect signs indicating that voters must show photo identification to cast a ballot” (Kendall). This was a problem to many given that earlier in August a court had determined that there would be exceptions made for people that had sufficient reasoning for not obtaining a form of government issued identification. The signs that were mistaken put out at these polling sites meant that there would be some residents who wouldn’t be able to cast their ballot. Many polling sites claimed this to be an oversight and that the placement of the signs were not intentional. With that said it is still unlawful and since shedding light on the issue the signs have been fixed.
Another state that has seen questions of voting rights was Ohio. State Democrats and a pair of homeless advocacy groups appealed to the Supreme Court in an effort to stop state requirements which they believe could lead to absentee and provisional ballots being rejected if voters make mistakes on the forms. If this problem goes unaddressed it is predicted that thousands of Ohio ballots will be disallowed. “Justice Elena Kagan has asked the state to submit a legal response by Monday” (Kendall). Secretary of State Jon Husted disagreed with the Democrats initiative saying that allowing these ballots to count would be “injecting chaos” (Husted) into the election. Husted stated that “Election officials need a way to confirm that a person is a qualified, eligible voter before counting a ballot”.
“Arizona Democrats are awaiting an appeals-court ruling on their challenge to a GOP state law that makes it a crime for get-out-the-vote operatives to collect and deliver absentee ballots filled out by voters” (Kendall). Democrats fear that if residents are unable to go out and vote that their votes will not be counted. They are also concerned that a large burden will be placed on neighbors, activists and campaigners who will have to go out and collect ballots for those that cannot get out and vote. A trial judge ruled in favor of the state, the reason being that Arizona has been known to have cases of legitimate voter fraud and ballot tampering.
Being a swing state, Pennsylvania is placed under the microscope when it comes to voting and voter legitimacy. Most recently “A Pennsylvania federal judge will consider a GOP challenge to state rules that say residents are eligible to monitor elections only in the counties in which they reside” (Kendall). Due to the power that Pennsylvania has in the deciding of an election, many Republicans feel that it would be wise to place poll watchers in heavily Democratic urban areas to make sure that elections are conducted fairly. Some people, including Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pedro Cortes feels that the Republicans could “compromise the fundamental rights of voters actually trying to cast peaceful votes.”
As the election begins to narrow down there is widespread implications of voter fraud and voter rights violations across the country. It is up to courts and lawmakers to ensure that every single American has the right to vote for who they want, it is a fundamental right that this country was founded on.
Zachary is a finance and economics major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.