After the 2020 elections, almost every state in the union seems to have altered their voting laws. It’s hard to discern from the national attention given to each of the states that have changed their voting laws whether any of the legislation actually adds to the integrity of elections. Montana has the best election integrity laws in the nation, and the enormous red wave we saw in the last election served as proof that an all mail-in election can be very successful and performed without vast fraud that has been alleged in other states. Since we know that Montana runs a tight ship when it comes to voting and election integrity, we should be cautious and skeptical when Congress decides to weigh in on our elections.
Several “voting rights” bills have been proposed by members of Congress. Even if the bills’ content is good, they should be rejected. Federalizing our elections is bad for Montana because Montana doesn’t need the “help” the feds are seeking to mandate. Granted, the Feds get to trump whatever we do that they don’t like. And unfortunately, if another state screws up election integrity, Congress gets to cast a wide net that affects all states just to bring one state into Congress’ view of ”compliance.” The Elections Clause in the Constitution should be referred to as the “Big Brother Clause” because it essentially allows the federal government to pull the rug out from under state legislatures. Article 1, Section 4 states: “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections … shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations …” Thus, this hustle for election reform in many states may be futile; if a Democrat-controlled Congress doesn’t like a single change to voting laws in Texas, it has the ability to create sweeping change to Montana’s voting laws as it wipes out whatever it doesn’t like in Texas.
Top-down government doesn’t set well with most Montanans, and it is an outrage to conservatives. Why? Because chaos ensues when the level of government above takes control over subject matter delegated to the governments closest to the people — state, county and city governments. Time and taxpayer dollars are spent in state government crafting legislation tailored to our specific values and geographic needs; if the feds sweep in and alter Montana’s election laws who pays for the wasted funds? We do. A federal government takeover of our elections process, no matter how well intended, wastes tax dollars and puts all states – rural and urban – into a one-size-fits-all mold that has been proven time and time again to be bad for Montana.
Tammi Fisher is an attorney, former Mayor of Kalispell and host of Montana Values Podcast.
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