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Fair, free elections must be the goal

In states across the country, conservative groups and legislators are pushing legislation they say will make elections more secure. They worry that potential voters don’t trust the process, a worry that should be put to rest by the record-setting voter turnout in the last election. Voters don’t seem to have a problem with the voting system, it is party officials who don’t like the outcome who worry.

Some of the proposals would make it harder to vote — requiring people to show a picture ID, for instance (not hard for people who have an ID, but difficult for those who don’t, and have to go get one). Some proposals would make it more complicated to vote by mail, cutting back on the number of mail-in ballots that are sent in and making sure more are rejected.

Voting laws should be set up to assure that voting is free, and fair, for all who qualify for the right to vote. They should make accommodations for those who lack the mobility to get to the polls, or whose circumstances won’t allow them to go to their local polling places. They should protect the secrecy of the ballot. They should make it easy for people to register. They should allow election officials to collect and process early ballots and mail-in ballots before the polls close, to avoid the kind of delays in counting that marked this year’s election.

Democracy works best when everyone has the right to be heard through the votes they cast on election day.

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