Left-Wing Academics Warn GOP State-Led Election Integrity Bills a Threat to Democracy

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 06: A woman hands out "I voted" stickers to voters at the Rummel Creek Elementary polling place on November 6, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Voters visited polling places around Texas on Election Day to cast their ballots in the midterms. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)
Loren Elliott/Getty Images

About 100 academics from left-wing institutions like Harvard and Boston College have issued a “statement of concern” on Tuesday about how Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country drafting and passing election integrity laws are a threat to American democracy.

The lengthy statement claimed that the reforms are part of a broader effort in response to “unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election” in 2020:

Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.

The statement signees blame former President Donald Trump for the danger:

It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking. Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his “Stop the Steal” crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread.

And the academics claim federalizing elections is the real election reform that is needed:

We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.

The Boston Globe, calling it a “stark warning,” reported on the statement:

The academics, many of them experts in political science and government, came from a wide array colleges and universities across the country, including Notre Dame, the University of Minnesota, Duke University, the University of Utah, and the University of West Virginia. Local signers included seven from Harvard University — Jennifer Hochschild, Steve Levitsky, Jane Mansbridge, Pippa Norris, Robert D. Putnam, Nancy L. Rosenblum, and Daniel Ziblatt — as well as Kay L. Schlozman of Boston College and Alexander George Theodoridis of UMass Amherst.

Theodoridis, an associate professor of political science, told the Globe in a phone interview that “there’s a very troubling trend of democratic backslide in this country.”

Theodoridis emphasized that while there was a sense after Biden was sworn in that the American elections system worked, what it really did was showcase vulnerabilities that Republicans are now trying to exploit with new election restrictions.

“We’ve just witnessed, through [Donald] Trump’s big lie, an effort to overturn a free and fair election. And it seems like there are a lot of efforts going on out there in various states to, instead of making it more difficult to overturn the will of the voters, [make] it easier, and that’s very concerning,” Theodoridis said.

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