WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), home to the national caucuses for Republican state legislators and secretaries of state, today announced a commission to restore the American people’s confidence in the integrity of their free and fair elections by convening leading policymakers to share and discuss voter-centric current laws and future reforms that make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. The commission, co-chaired by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Michigan state Senator Ruth Johnson, has begun identifying best practices through a sampling of legislation from all states that have proven their practicality and worth, embodying key principles that increase voter access and participation without sacrificing security, accountability, and transparency. The Wall Street Journal last night editorialized about the early work of the commission.
“Increasing voter participation in this country will require thoughtful repairs to restore the public’s confidence in our elections, and we need to make the reforms necessary to regain trust in the process,” said Alabama Secretary of State and commission co-chair John Merrill. “While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to anything, every state in the nation should be working to assess and improve their respective election laws. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this commission to be a resource for the leaders across the country who are taking the necessary steps forward to improving the process.”
Restoring confidence in American elections is a national priority – but it’s in the states where action needs to be taken, as the Constitution gives states the important responsibility of running elections. As a longtime partner to the secretaries of state and legislators who will be implementing reforms in their respective states, the RSLC is best positioned to lead this effort by assembling its members and serving as a hub of communication for their work.
Michigan state Senator and commission co-chair Ruth Johnson added, “The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges and exposed that our election processes are far from perfect. The good news is that states are truly the laboratories of democracy, and we can all learn from what others do well as we try to provide assistance to the leaders across the country that are spearheading the effort to reform our elections. I am confident that our commission will be able to provide substantive support to the lawmakers around the nation who need it, and restore our people’s trust in our elections.”
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial said of the commission’s launch:
- “Hundreds of bills to reform voting processes have already been introduced in state legislatures this year, but there’s plenty that the laboratories of democracy could learn from one another. To that end, it’s worth watching a new project of the Republican State Leadership Committee…As states reconsider their election rules in the wake of the pandemic, Democrats have begun shouting that voter suppression is on the march. They stress ballot access but not ballot integrity. Both are important, as the Jimmy Carter-James Baker commission on federal election reform explained in 2005. If the RSLC can deliver best practices, drawing from red and blue states and covering hot-button issues and mundane details like ballot preprocessing, it could give state lawmakers a good push in the right direction.”
RSLC Commission on Election Integrity Key Principles
These key reform principles will guide the commission as it seeks to collect input from state leaders across the country on best practices to make our elections free, fair, and transparent.
Restoring public confidence in our elections will not be solved by one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington. Every state is different, and to guarantee that election results are accurate and are administered in a fair and efficient manner, elections must remain controlled by the states. Some states will continue to emphasize election day voting; others will have more expansive mail-in and early voting elements, while still others will elect to do all mail-in ballot. Whatever path a state takes, it should maintain its own codified uniform standards for consistent administration across their counties and local jurisdictions.
ENSURING VOTER ROLL ACCURACY
Our voter rolls are the pillars upon which secure elections are built and if they are not correct, then the integrity of the rest of the process can be compromised. Each state should be diligent in maintaining accurate voter rolls in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993 by offering registration through various platforms and options, and by contacting voters routinely for corrections and updates. States should be transparent about their auditing practices and standards to better inform voters and make it possible for election officials to be held accountable.
SECURING ABSENTEE / MAIL-IN VOTING
Every eligible United States citizen who is a legal resident of their state and has properly registered, should be able to vote without any encumbrance and absentee and mail-in voting options should be encouraged. States should, however, look to strengthen these methods through proper signature verification (matching signatures against voter registration records, not ballot applications), photo ID submission, and timely ballot return requirements. The more confidence Americans have that others cannot vote in their place, that their ballot will be received and counted in a judicious manner, and that their vote cannot be compromised by tampering with the mail-in voting process, the more people will use these in-person voting alternatives.
INCREASING TRANSPARENCY FOR IN-PERSON VOTING
In-person voting should be an orderly and transparent process that provides citizens a recourse when they think the law is not being followed. Giving Americans the tools to better scrutinize their elections will strengthen trust in the system and lead to more voter participation. To achieve this, election officials should be trained and credentialed to properly administer the in-person voting process and each state should provide a means for those individuals to be thoroughly monitored by outside observers at every step of the process. States should also provide a mechanism, including but not limited to an online submission form, telephone hotline, or mailing option, so that voters may report and notify the necessary agencies of any potential fraud, irregularity, misconduct, or violation during their voting experience.
STREAMLINING THE CANVASSING PROCESS
Voters should not have to wait days or weeks to know the outcome of an election. The longer a count takes, and the more allowances that have to be made during the course of the canvassing process, the less assurance voters can have that the process is fair. That’s why every legal vote cast by the end of Election Day, with the exception of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) ballots, should be counted, in an uninterrupted fashion, until an unofficial winner is determined. All standards for certification should be followed without exception. States should also consider processing, validating, and preparing mail-in ballots as they are received in advance of the election day so they can be quickly tabulated and results released election night.