California needs election reform

Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill requiring that voters produce identification to show that they are legally entitled to vote. Notwithstanding the fact that 80% of Americans support voter ID laws, progressives claim that such laws constitute “voter suppression.”

But to see what real voter suppression is, one need only move west to California where political leaders routinely act to nullify election results. Let us count the ways.

First, last November, California voters approved Proposition 22, which permitted some classifications of gig workers to retain their status as independent contractors. But in what is just the latest example of progressive hypocrisy, there was much cheering on the left side of the political aisle over a court ruling striking down Proposition 22, the voter-approved initiative protecting drivers in the gig economy. When progressives don’t like the results of an election, they often attempt to get a judge to overrule the will of the electorate.

Second, voters also rejected legislation, via the referendum power, that would have eliminated cash bail in California. Turns out that Californians are concerned with increasing crime and still think cash bail is an effective way to ensure that those charged with crimes appear in court. But the California Legislature has tried, not just once, but twice to counter voters’ intent. First, one bill would flip the way referendum votes are counted so that a “no” vote would mean “yes.” But since that would take a constitutional amendment, they are trying to weaken the cash bail system so severely that it would be an effective repeal. This is  contrary to what the voters want.

Third, progressives are circling the wagons to protect Gavin Newsom from being recalled and have manipulated the timing of the election in a manner which they thought would give them an advantage. While the rise of the new Covid variant and endless wildfires has probably neutralized that strategy, you can’t say that they didn’t try. In fact, the legislation changing timing of the recall election was just one of many bills enacted by progressives to give them an advantage in election contests.

Fourth, well-known leftist law professors have belatedly launched an attack on the recall process by arguing that recalls are unconstitutional. But even California’s progressive judiciary wasn’t buying that argument and summarily denied the lawsuit that was brought.

Fifth, attempts at voter suppression occur at the local level as well. In an op-ed in the Orange County Register, Ben Lee with the California Tax Foundation notes that the South Coast Air Quality Management District wants to prevent voters from having a say on a tax hike on essential businesses by pretending a major tax increase is simply a “fee.”

Finally, perhaps the worst form of voter suppression is the threat posed by election improprieties. Without getting into the extent to which there are voting irregularities in California, any illegal vote cast dilutes the votes cast by legal voters. Contrary to progressive protests, election integrity is weak because of ballot harvesting and obsolete voter rolls.

It shouldn’t even be controversial to say that election integrity laws should make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. Instead, progressives insist on laws that give us universal mail ballots, unattended ballot drop boxes and ballot harvesting, while denouncing laws that implement reasonable measures to ensure that ballots are cast lawfully and counted accurately.

The problem is easily fixed with better laws, and more and more voters are coming to realize that. No wonder progressives are so angry at Texas.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.