Imagine if the Republicans passed a voting reform that did the following things:

1. Required all voting to occur on Election Day at a physical polling station, and all absentee votes to be postmarked on Election Day.
2. Made stringent requirements for absentee voting, including a signed affidavit explaining why in-person voting is not possible, accompanied by criminal penalties for perjury.
3. Made it a crime to transport a non-family member to the polling station.
4. Made signature matches a national requirement, and empowered poll workers to unilaterally reject signatures.
5. Outlawed all online voter registration, and all state government programs to facilitate or encourage voter registration.
6. Stripped all voters who don’t respond to a snail-mailed inquiry of their voter registration.
7. Disallowed college students from voting in a state other than their primary residence.
8. Required female voters to register their maiden names and any other names they may have used in the past to register to vote. Insist their registration name match the name on their state-issued ID.
9. Made a state-issued ID a requirement of both registering and voting.

Naturally, the Democrats would be outraged as these measures would clearly disadvantage them. But they also go against the spirit that voting is a fundamental right and responsibility of every citizen.

As the Washington Post reports, the Democrats’ voting reform bill cuts in the opposite direction, and also introduces campaign finance and ethics reforms.

The bill’s voting provisions would guarantee no-excuse mail voting and at least 15 days of early voting for federal elections; require states to use their existing government records to automatically register citizens to vote; restore voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences; and mandate the use of paper ballots.

Other provisions would create new disclosure requirements for “dark money” donations to political groups; require states to appoint independent commissions to draw congressional districts; and create new federal standards for election equipment vendors.

The bill also would require tech platforms to disclose political advertising information; establish a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices for the first time; restructure the Federal Election Commission to an odd number of members to break partisan deadlocks; and require presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

The Republicans consider these reforms to be the equivalent of a death sentence and argue that their sole intent is to gain a permanent political advantage for the Democrats. But, notice, these reforms make it easier for Republicans to vote too. There are no voters who are singled out for harassment or disenfranchisement. No one is stripped off the voter rolls. If this hurts Republicans it’s only because currently the Republicans have an advantage that would disappear. If nearly everyone can register and voting is easy and accessible, that’s an even playing field.

By looking at what the Republicans could do to reform elections, we can see that their ideas all cut in the direction of making the playing field even more lop-sided in their favor, and it’s all done by preventing people from voting.

So, while each set of reforms would really hurt the other side politically, only one set is nakedly partisan.

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