WATCH: What might election reform look like?

After the chaotic 2020 elections, there are bipartisan calls for election reform. But little agreement between the political parties as to what the reforms should be. The first bill brought by the New Democrat-led Senate: the “For the People Act.” It’s the liberal version of what changes should take place. But how likely is election reform in America? Scott Thuman takes a look.

It was an election season like no other.

Trump: Now I’ve got to say, I’m working my ass off here.

Staged against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

Biden: We can, and we will control this virus.

With complaints of paused counts, record mail-in votes, blocked observers, and an overnight flip in results.

CNN anchor: CNN projects Joseph R. Biden Jr. is elected the 46th president of the United States.

FOX anchor: Joe Biden will win, putting him over the 270 electoral votes he needs to become the 46th president of the United States.

The result didn’t stop the anger and arguments. If anything, they got worse.

Trump: We were getting ready to win this election, frankly, we did win this election.

The bitter post-election period marked by dozens of court cases that went nowhere, accusations of a stolen vote, and new polls suggesting that two months after the election, 38 percent of Americans still don’t think the election results are accurate.

The last formal process of an American election, the count and ratification of state by state votes in congress, was itself violently interrupted.

(Scott on camera)

American has been a democratic constitutional republic for longer than any other nation but our system is not without problems and flaws and it does evolve. After each election, there are always lessons learned

Scott: A lot of what people were there pushing, was what they claimed was this ‘stop the steal.’ That was their movement. In a larger sense, their assertion was that this election system is broken. Is it?

Olson: I don’t think it’s broken. It can use improvement.

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at Washington’s libertarian Cato Institute, he studies constitutional law and elections. Though he rejects claims of a stolen election, he says the discussion is vital.

Olson: It’s important to keep fraud out. Fraud has happened in American history and not just in the distant past.

Just hours after the capitol was reopened, senators made impassioned pleas for unity, but perhaps lost in the torrent of news that day–the bipartisan calls for electoral reform. With partisan differences about what those reforms should be.

Lankford: The peaceful people in my state in Oklahoma want their questions answered, but they don’t want this, what happened today. They want to honor the constitutional process, but they also want to have a debate about election security because they want to make sure it is right.

Markey: We need automatic voter registration, we need online voter registration, we need same-day voter registration. We should make election day a federal holiday.

But the reality is, though congress can write laws, it’s the state’s job to manage elections. Already some are working on changes for the next election.

In Georgia, the republican secretary of state was both lauded and criticized for rejecting President Trump’s efforts to overturn a Biden victory. But in the future, his office may lose the power to manage elections in a series of proposed changes expected to be considered by the republican dominated state legislature.

In Maryland, Republican Governor Larry Hogan, is focusing on an area that’s been a source of dispute and court challenges for years – electoral districts.

Both republican and democrat lawmakers in Texas have suggested changes. One would limit the governor’s power to alter voting rules during an emergency situation, like a pandemic.

In New York, the controlling democrats want to make absentee voting easier and provide ballot drop boxes for all future elections. And there’s broad public support for some adjustments. In a survey managed by MIT’s election lab conducted after the 2020 vote: paper backups for voting machines and stronger voter ID requirements were two of the most popular changes.

Also a notable result of the survey: a stark fall in the faith that GOP voters have that votes were counted properly with just 23 percent of republicans saying they were very or somewhat confident down from 80 percent four years ago.

To understand how elections can be flawed and then fixed, look no further than Florida, where George W. Bush narrowly beat Al Gore.

Olson: Florida of course, in the year 2000, was the center of the world’s attention because it didn’t do a very good job of counting and confirming and recounting its votes.

Scott: Came down to 537 votes.

Olson: It did. And that would be a headache either way but the way that Florida counted was also a problem, so Florida learned. And this is something where both parties to some extent, wanted a solution. They didn’t want to put their state in that position again. And so, Florida this year, was one of the best performing states.

In fact, Olson says, the speed of the count is one of the lessons that should be learned from 2020, because a slow count can sow doubt.

Olson: Here you saw some states getting an essentially full count the very first night or shortly thereafter. And you had other states that took days, painful days, in which large cities or counties within the state didn’t get their returns in until much later. Now, when they reported, the state’s outcome changed. We saw that in several of the states that were challenged by Trump supporters. I think everyone should be looking for ways to get that vote counted earlier.

Though some argue instances of election fraud, or irregularities, are few, falling levels of trust in the process by some could spell trouble in the future.

Alexander: Perception becomes part of people’s reality and they need to learn that in the information world that we live in, they need to have a better understanding of how to figure out fact from fiction.

Paige Alexander is CEO of the Carter Center in Atlanta. The organization founded by Former President Jimmy Carter that’s best known for its work promoting democracy around the world. In nearly 40 years, they’ve monitored 113 elections overseas.

Alexander: The U S is a real outlier. We’ve got our neighbors to the north and the south Mexico and Canada who have independent electoral administrators. We do this in almost every country. We have central election commissions that we work with, and that really allows us the ability to have a uniform system that we are tracking here in the United States. It’s 50 different elections in Georgia. It’s 159 different counties. Many times, it’s actually comes down to the County level. And so, it’s very hard to keep an understanding of exactly where we are tracking different rules and regulations if they’re changing so much. And so, I think as we look at it, if we were to crystal ball what we’re able to bring forward from our overseas experience, much of that would be a central election commission and independent nonpolitical system that sets up an election program that allows everybody to follow the same rules.

In the end, Olson sees the state-by-state election system in America as more of a strength than a weakness.

Olson: The constitution is actually, I think, quite wise in keeping this decentralized. It means for one thing, that there’s no single lever to pull to make things go wrong if someone has bad intent. It means that states can experiment as they have with different methods and discover by trial and error, which ones work well. And we’ve seen a great deal of that. There have been dozens of different voting machine systems and vote count systems. Some of them have been kind of disastrous but imagine Washington prescribing the disastrous one for everyone to use the same day.


Sharyl (on camera): Since real reform is most likely to happen at the state level, New York is already moving a bill through its legislature that would make absentee ballot voting easier and count them earlier.

Fight improper government surveillance. Support Attkisson v. DOJ and FBI over the government computer intrusions of Attkisson’s work while she was a CBS News investigative correspondent. Visit the Attkisson Fourth Amendment Litigation Fund. Click here.

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15 thoughts on “WATCH: What might election reform look like?”

  1. First of all what Trump wanted and what many many many Americans wanted was an audit to show whether or not the election was legal and fair – although we know it was not. In a legal election poll watchers and challengers are in place to assure both sides that things were done fairly. It is a legal requirement in (I believe) all states that they be allowed access to ensure that the election is fair. The unusual circumstances were no excuse to take this ‘refereeing’ role out of play. You find a way to make it work. College football games are stopped and plays reviewed multiple times to make sure that play is fair and what’s at stake – a damn football game. This is an election where the results are a hell of a lot more important. When in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Detroit we hear and see that thie rolls of poll watcher and poll challenger were essential thrown out along with apparently the need to obey many other laws put in place to ensure fair elections, we all suspect that the reason was much less than honorable. When election oficials fight tooth and nail to prevent fair and legal audits again this does not foretell of fair practice. If Biden won by such a margin why the secrecy????

  2. I would like to see Independent administration of elections at the state level.
    Also would like random auditing of precincts, particularly those that are hotly contested.
    It is a mistake to dismiss concerns of fraud or system irregularities, especially when the process is changed only months before the election. If citizens are willing to swear affidavits at the risk of imprisonment for lying, their allegations must be taken seriously and fully investigated. The results of all investigations must then be communicated by the independent, non-partisan administrators, not by a partisan media.
    I detest the predictions and east coast results being relayed long before the polls close on the west coast, and think that should be stopped. Nothing reported until the next morning, when results are more finalized.

    1. Bingo. Unfortunately, there ARE laws against and penalties for voter fraud but they are not utilized so there is no deterrent.

  3. first thing is you have to GET RID of all dominion machines/ computers and software.
    Otherwise, the FIX is still in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Gordon REID SAUNDERS

      Absolutely! If this isn’t done and/or proved that it wasn’t necessary, there will be a continuing underlying opinion that voting in the US is now not reliable.

  4. We do not need reform, we need a supreme court.
    Gohmert had it right in his lawsuit against pence.
    Which is it for electoral votes?
    Constitution- state legislatures send the votes
    Electoral act of 1878- state executives sends the votes.

    I believe the constitution is the supreme law of the land. Is it not?
    And should be addressed by the supreme court.

    Dual slate of electors sent. Who determined what candidate got the votes?

    If unity is to be attained, then this is the issue.

  5. The article is highly flawed.
    More precisely the opinion of the member of the Cato Institute and Carter Center are highly flawed and push a selective narrative that the election wasn’t stolen. Well here’s a news flash, it was Stolen!

    The clear language of the State Constitutions were ignored by both the State Officials and the State Judiciary! Election process were changed without State legislature approval! SCOTUS failed to censure the judicial and partisan overreach!

    Fyi, the majority of European nations have Banned Postal Voting as it is known to be the highest at risk for fraudulent manipulation! The Carter Center is fully aware of this but doesn’t cite it in comments to the lapdog media!

    Furthermore, neither person cited mentions the role of highly manipulated election software that caused so much of the fraud and the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent for this highly suspect equipment!

    Why didn’t we have issues with election software in Texas or Florida?

    Election reform will never happen under this tyrannical liberal administration! The only reform will be to ensure a single party rule!

  6. You must love America to have serious election reform.

    Just one example: Is open borders good for America??? How can anyone that loves this Country vote for a party that wants open borders.

    America will not survive unless the MSM and social media care about America and not a party.

  7. There won’t be any “real” elections in the future unless we (perhaps some politicians) address the Election irregularities that happened in 2020. The fact that states broke their own laws and people who did NOT have the constitutional right to change or alter state laws still have not been held accountable is a very sad day for the USA.

  8. The question asked was “What might election reform look like?”
    The probable answer is “like Florida” for red states and “Like cook county” for blue ones.

    For a clear technical answer on what could be done look at my outline on using a simple computer system as the model around which to develop voting procedures that work – see winface dot com – .

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