To ensure a smooth and accurate count, states should make it as easy as possible to count votes accurately, and listen to election officials when they say they need counting deadlines adjusted this year. Congress should also move swiftly to help facilitate such an accurate vote. Legislation that has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and in the House by Rep. David Price, D-N.C., has been endorsed by 40 election experts to extend vote-tallying deadlines, which are rightly labeled as arbitrary. This commonsense bill to preempt a constitutional crisis deserves bipartisan consideration. Why won’t Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., allow it to be considered?
Several states' primary elections earlier this year — including Georgia, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina — offered stark examples of what could go wrong with voting during a pandemic. Lines up to five hours long were a result of a variety of factors: a sharp decrease in the number of open polling locations due to a lack of poll workers, social distancing measures, problems with equipment, and a variety of other issues. Concerningly, reports of similarly long wait times are already emerging for early voting in Georgia’s general election and other states as well. The bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration has recommended that voters wait no more than 30 minutes to cast a ballot. While excitement from people eager to cast their votes should be celebrated, lines that don’t move quickly can be barriers to the exercise of citizens' civic duty in Georgia and any other state. We hope that many voters will continue to vote early to help avoid long lines on Election Day on November 3.
No matter who wins the presidency or congressional races, all Americans must have faith in their system, and every vote cast in accordance with applicable laws must be counted. To preserve the integrity of our elections, we put country over party to support the constitutional processes that make our system strong. Together, we can ensure that this election, though fraught, is just another in the long line of challenges we self-governing Americans have successfully weathered and overcome.
Democrat Mary Landrieu is a former U.S. senator from Louisiana. Republican Zach Wamp is a former congressman from Tennessee. Both are members of the National Council on Election Integrity.