I believe that our Constitution is one of the most cleverly written documents mankind has ever produced. To my eye, it was designed to minimize the Federal footprint while keeping state’s rights superior to the federal and individual’s rights paramount. It made sense then as it does today, in most cases, the government should be a reflection of the people’s will. Keeping as much of the decision-making at the local level as possible helps to ensure that the rules governing a people reflect the values and history of those people. At the same time, there is an acknowledgement to the fact that there is a Federal government and that there are some advantages to centralization of decisions or services.
Case in point, Article 1, Section 4 of our Constitution:
“The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.”
This brings us to the question at hand, should elections be nationalized? Clearly there is intention to have decisions made at the state level, while giving the Federal government an opportunity to change those rules as it sees fit. This is reflected across the states now, where election administration varies greatly from state to state. In some states, the elections are controlled at the state level, others at the county level and others run elections at the municipal level. One would presume that these decisions reflect the values of the local citizenry, or they would have petitioned to have them changed. In the end, the product would seem to fulfill the needs of the people and government at every level.
Having disparate approaches to election administration has some security advantages as well. If all election administrators used all the same equipment and configurations, hacking/interference strategies could be developed that would affect the entire country. Having thousands of different approaches to providing elections makes it that much harder to hack or ‘game’.
The only argument for nationalization I can fathom is national control. In yet another instance of our government telling the people how government should be run, the several hundred representatives we have elected want to tell the millions of us how we should perform elections. To that I say, if we wanted them different, they would be different! Clearly, the states have avenues for the citizenry to petition their legislatures to make such changes. That minority in Washington may have a legal right to influence how elections are run, but they can’t say that such a change reflects the political intent of those they claim to serve.
As this issue seems to be coming again to the fore, please keep one eye open for these shenanigans and pen and paper ready to let our legislators know what you think about the nationalized elections.