Editorial: Voter suppression runs counter to honest elections

This editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Daily Herald Editorial Board

Fifth in a series

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

Not long ago, the idea of "election integrity" came up in a friendly conversation one of our Editorial Board members had with a suburban Republican we greatly respect.

This Republican is not a 2020 election denier, but as part of the conversation, he casually mentioned the need for stronger safeguards against ballot stuffing and other election fraud that he characterized as common knowledge.

Well, none of it was common knowledge to our Editorial Board member, so he pushed back and asked for examples.

The response: Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley bringing in the late graveyard vote that elected John F. Kennedy president.

We have to admit. We are old enough to remember that Daley Machine legend, although not expert enough to assess its accuracy.

But let's just assume, for argument's sake, that it is true.

Daley, for anyone who is counting, has been dead for 46 years. Kennedy was elected in 1960.

Sixty-two years ago!

That's the best argument in 2023 for imposing restrictions on voting?

We have to admit. There are other arguments. Like the one from downstate Senate candidate Peggy Hubbard who has yet to concede her Republican primary loss last summer to Kathy Salvi of Mundelein.

In Facebook Live post after Facebook Live post, Hubbard has claimed the primary election was stolen from her by a conspiracy of Democrats and suburban establishment Republicans. Her evidence? When it comes down to it, her evidence amounts simply to her assessment that Salvi was not a good enough candidate to have beaten her legitimately.

Such is the Orwellian conspiracy-buff basis for "Election Integrity" calls these days.

We agree that elections need to be honest. That's fundamental to a democracy.

And we are not naive. We understand that each party will do what it can to bend the rules in its favor.

But we have seen no evidence of widespread voter fraud; certainly, not the scope that alters elections.

And it is a slippery slope to go from election integrity to voter suppression.

We all should be encouraging voter access. Mail-in voting as a concept is a good thing. Early voting as a concept is a good thing, although it would be worth dispassionately examining the numbers to see if the added voting justifies the added expense.

But those worried unnecessarily about voting being rigged would be better served putting their efforts into reforms to take district remapping out of the hands of the politicians, to limit campaign financing to take our elections out of the hands of fat cats, to require transparency and fundamental accuracy in political advertising that now so often spreads lies about the opposition.

It is not fraud that undermines our democracy. It is voter suppression, a culture of cynicism, and institutional favoritism.

Give people access to vote.

Some election issues that need more attention

Toward fairness, faith in our elections Leaders, voters should be exploring how ranked choice voting can work in Illinois

Stress fractures in the judiciary Experience shows we need changes to diminish the role of politics in our courts

Just an email address How requiring candidates to submit an email address could help democracy

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