Commentary

Voters are safe from falling skies 

May 3, 2022 3:00 am

(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The protocols for wearing an “I Voted” sticker need updating. What are the ground rules if you fulfill your civic duty a month before the May 10 primary? Is it proper to exercise your enfranchisement by mail and then show up at work or school or the market sporting the iconic red, white and blue adhesives for weeks at a time?

Sticker etiquette concerns pale in comparison to other problems connected with primary voting in 2022 … especially early, mail-in voting.

According to the Brennan Center, 19 states have passed laws in the last two years that restrict voting in some way. Mail-in ballots are a particularly favorite target of those who insist some qualified voters are less qualified than other qualified voters to make a civic decision.

Thankfully, Nebraska didn’t make such a dubious list of states.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. Thirteen Nebraska state senators mounted four attempts to put the state between you and your vote. They either introduced or signed on to legislation or ballot measures that would have restricted Nebraskans’ ability to cast a vote. One, requiring a photo ID card to vote, is still in process, gathering signatures in hopes eventually of amending the Nebraska Constitution.

Let that sink in for a minute: In a democratic republic — where the will of the people is expressed primarily through voting — 13 Nebraska state senators think making it more difficult to vote is a good idea.

They argue, as others have in a number of states, that we must rein in measures designed to increase voting … in a democracy. Go figure.

Those trafficking in such undemocratic and, frankly, dangerous ideas have, in the words of noted 20th century philosopher Desi Arnaz, “some ‘splainin to do.”

And here it is: They fear widespread voter fraud … leading to mistrust of elections and their results.

Widespread voter fraud would certainly be a reasonable concern.

If there were such a thing.

No credible evidence indicates the 2020 election here, there, and everywhere in the U.S. was anything but safe and secure. Plus, more people voted in 2020 than any time since 1900. We’ve come to call the gap between the overwhelming evidence of a “clean” election and the ongoing belief it was somehow rigged, the Big Lie.

Without incidents of widespread fraud on which to hang their hats, those clamoring for more voting restrictions seem to be taking issue with election results rather than election processes. That, in turn, would render proposals such as the quartet from the last session of the Unicameral more about politics than about worries of voting shenanigans.

The electoral sky is not falling. Full stop.

Believing otherwise, even with passion and fervor, doesn’t make it so. We must remember, too, that in our system of government, we elect leaders and adjudicate disputes via the ballot box and the courts, not by likes and conspiracy theories on social media nor by bombast on radio and TV talk shows.

Neither should a fact-free insinuation inform state legislation that could fray the leading strand of our civic DNA: free and fair elections. Nebraskans should be grateful that voter restriction measures in the Legislature went nowhere.

Some have also tried to alter the significance of a vote through redistricting, essentially a once-a-decade math problem after the census has been taken.

Although not everyone was pleased, Nebraskans can put redistricting in the win column after a September special legislative session and political back and forth redrew our current districts. A win because when gerrymandering shows up and games the system, voting districts can end up looking like a Rorschach test on acid.

Or worse. Sometimes they just disappear for political reasons, usually with a biased kicker thrown in.

In Florida, for example, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state legislature paused in their beating of Mickey Mouse, banning math books and creating a “voting police” (my, they look handsome in their Brown Shirts), to gerrymander two legislative districts out of existence — districts with predominantly Black populations.

Let the court cases begin and continue … over 70 at last count.

We like to say elections have consequences. Actually elections have results. Voting has consequences.

Almost as much as not voting.

That’s especially true this year considering those 13 Nebraska state senators — citing, without evidence, actual or potential fraud — entertained ideas that could disenfranchise eligible Nebraska voters.

All of which helped me make my choice this primary.

I went with the sticker.

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George Ayoub
George Ayoub

George Ayoub filed nearly 5,000 columns, editorials and features in 21 years as a journalist for the Grand Island Independent. His columns also appeared in the Omaha World-Herald and Kearney Hub. His work has been recognized by the Nebraska Press Association and the Associated Press. He was awarded a national prize by Gatehouse Media for a 34-part series focusing on the impact of cancer on families of victims and survivors. He is a member of the adjunct faculty and Academic Support Staff at Hastings College. Ayoub has published two short novels, “Warm, for Christmas” and “Dust in Grissom.” In 2019 he published “Confluence,” the biography of former Omaha World-Herald publisher and CEO John Gottschalk.

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