In the aftermath of the 2020 national elections, several of our congressional representatives took strong stands to ensure the sanctity of our electoral process.
Their statements mostly concerned objections to presidential election results in other states where accusations of election fraud were present.
The investigations and court proceedings stemming from those allegations did not uncover any fraud in those states on a level that would affect the outcome of those elections, and despite a full-blown attack on the Capitol intended to interrupt the process, on Jan. 20, Congress certified Joe Biden as the winner of the Electoral College and the next president of the United States.
With that order of business out of the way, we hope 1st District Rep. Diana Harshbarger and Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty don’t forget their commitments to free and fair elections.
For decades, marginalized voices in our state and our nation have demanded election reforms to ensure every voice is heard and accurately represented.
Our representatives who have thrust protecting the electoral process to the front of their priorities can start by taking a look at campaign finance reform.
For too long, fundraising ability has been a disproportional determinant in our elections, from the local level all the way up to nationwide races. Our current process, aided by the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, breeds corruption, and makes candidates subordinate to donors with the deepest pockets.
Reformers have pushed for “democracy vouchers” provided to each eligible voter that can only be spent on political candidates or issues. Others advocate clean elections, in which each candidate receives a fixed amount of federal dollars for his or her campaign, and clean money, which requires strict disclosures of the sources of all political contributions.
With money no longer a hurdle, officials should turn to our election districts.
Too often, the victors of elections carve up their constituencies to give themselves and their parties the edge in future elections. In Tennessee, this gerrymandering has resulted in a Picasso-esque district map, contorted to split our communities and disproportionately represent the people of our state.
With the results of a new Census on the table, a re-examination of congressional and state legislative districts is in order.
Then, although out of our congressional representatives’ hands, are the slew of state laws and rules governing how elections are conducted in each state. Everything from voter identification requirements to mail-in ballot practices should be given a once-over to guarantee everyone the best opportunity to participate in our democratic process.
Our elections can only be free and fair if everyone can participate on a level field.
We hope overturning the results of the presidential election in a handful of states wasn’t the singular focus of our men and women in Congress, and urge them to tackle meaningful election reform soon.