Policy debates are rarely one-sided. Even when I feel strongly that side A is obviously, clearly, self-evidently the right way to go, I know deep down that sides B and C have their points too. And as I tell my students, cases don’t get to the Supreme Court unless there are at least two sides (often more) to the issue.
But every rule has its exception, and the Indiana General Assembly periodically refuses to take an action that is self-evidently, obviously right. As Indiana Public Media has reported,
House Republicans this week voted down Democrats’ attempts to help ensure Indiana’s voting machines are more secure in the 2020 election.
More than half of Indiana’s 92 counties have voting machines without a paper backup. Election security experts say those backups are critical to electoral integrity.
The General Assembly budgeted $10 million last year to help upgrade. But that amount only covers about 10 percent of the machines that need it. And they plan to get to the rest of them by 2030.
Really? By 2030? How helpful!
Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) says waiting 10 years to fully upgrade the machines is a mistake.
“Providing secure elections based on the best available technology that we know exists, that we know the Secretary [of State] could utilize in an efficient way before November elections is the right thing for us to do,” Hamilton says.
According to WFYI, Secretary of State Connie Lawson (a Republican, it should be noted) had asked the legislature for additional funds, but had been rebuffed
Lawson says she initially asked budget writers for more money.
“But they told us to get real,” Lawson says. “So, we got real and we tried to hone it down to where it was possible to get the dollars.”
Get real? “Real” is something our lawmakers know very little about–or choose to ignore.
What is “real” is the importance of public confidence in the integrity of the vote. What is “real” is the significant decline in the public’s trust in government. What is “real” is the growing cynicism and anger fed by blatant gerrymandering and multiple, visible Republican vote suppression efforts around the country.
Here in Indiana, what is also “real” is the legislature’s animus toward urban counties, and lawmakers’ continuing efforts to privilege both rural Hoosiers and the deep pockets of their contributors, constituencies that just happen to favor Republicans. (How else can we interpret efforts this session to protect coal and landlords, and to sabotage public transportation?)
Donald Trump may insist that American Intelligence operatives who continue to warn about Russian interference with our elections are part of some “deep state hoax,” but rational people know that those who work for our Intelligence agencies are far more credible than the buffoon who stands to benefit from that interference. Ensuring that our voting machines are tamper-proof, providing a paper trail, and taking other precautions against threatened interference (or for that matter, domestic game-playing and/or malfunction) is simply common sense.
Granted, common sense has never been the most obvious attribute of Indiana’s General Assembly.
If there is “another side” to providing proper election security, I don’t know what it is.