The New York Times editorial board published a piece singing the praises of the security of the November election, but chastised leaders who continue to ignore the need to make voting easier on Americans.
There were certainly positives to the first election in a century to take place during a global pandemic. Most states made strides to allow voters access to safely casting ballots.
"Together, this ad hoc democracy-protection network fanned out to expand access to mail-in ballots, helping more than 100 million Americans, nearly two-thirds of all voters, to vote early or absentee," the Times board wrote. "They took on poll worker shifts so that older Americans would not have to risk their lives to keep precincts open. They volunteered time to ensure votes would be counted as quickly and accurately as possible. It was a heroic effort, and the people who worked its front lines deserve Americans' everlasting gratitude."
As Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, explained, the last four years involved non-stop work to register and mobilize voters.
"The smoothness of the election was not self-executing," he explained. "Don't lose sight of how much work we did to make it this way."
The Times board noted that in 2014, a bipartisan commission issued a report saying that no American should ever be forced to wait in line for more than 30 minutes just to vote. Six years later, lines were still hours and hours long.
"The solutions are not a mystery. Here are three of the most obvious ones," the report continued. "More money. In the first wave of the pandemic last spring, elections experts and officials pleaded with Congress to provide up to $4 billion to help ensure a smooth election. Lawmakers approved one-tenth of that amount.
Private philanthropists donated hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure elections were adequately funded. It isn't typical for the state and local governments to have to pass the hat just to pay for a safe and fair election. Donors also gave masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep poll workers secure.
"We get what we pay for," the Times cited Justin Levitt, who serves as an election law scholar at Loyola Law School. "We poured trillions into pandemic recovery, and a teaspoonful into the democracy that makes it work."
The second solution that the Times demands in their piece is to stop voter suppression efforts.
"It wasn't so long ago that both parties supported the protection of voting rights," the editorial board recalled. "In 2006, Congress overwhelmingly voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. Today, the Republican Party is awash in conspiracy theories and — there's no other way to put it — fundamentally distrusts the American electorate."
"Republicans consistently side against voters," the Times noted, citing hundreds of elections and voting lawsuits this year. In most cases, the courts let Republicans do whatever they want.
"They blocked reasonable, targeted measures to make voting easier during the pandemic, like extending ballot-arrival deadlines or increasing the number of drop boxes," the Times cited.
In Harris County, where Houston Texas is, there was one ballot drop box for 4.7 million people. The Texas Supreme Court didn't see the problem.
Another way for the U.S. to make elections better is to stop the disinformation efforts, the piece said. "America needs a far more aggressive and coordinated response to the massive disinformation campaigns polluting social media and people's dialogue with one another."
Trump spent the better part of the past five years claiming that the only way he would lose is if the other side cheated. There's no evidence of fraud, despite Trump's campaign lawsuits desperately trying to claim there are.
The Times board also blasted social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which have not done enough to stop false information on their platforms. Things were so bad at Facebook that at one point, after the election, the site issued a warning that an OAN report was false when it was posted. But when the same post was shared on Trump's page, Facebook didn't issue a similar disclaimer. It was yet another example of how Facebook gave Trump an open door to do whatever he wanted on their site.
Hmm. So Facebook fact-checkers have flagged as false a YouTube video from OANN with bogus election rigging claims.… https://t.co/ToK4cLmV3q— Donie O'Sullivan (@Donie O'Sullivan)1605815844.0
It has become clear that the overwhelming majority of false information is coming from conservatives, the editorial board said, demanding social media companies face reality and stop worrying about appearing "biased" or being too lazy to justify it to the right-wing.
"Democracy is a fragile thing, and it requires constant tending and vigilance to survive," said the Times board closed. "Americans were lucky this time. They were also well prepared. When pushed to the brink, they mobilized to protect their democracy. For this moment, at least, tune out the president, his flailing dishonesty and his bottomless disregard for the American experiment. Instead, express gratitude to the millions of Americans who still believe in that experiment, and who did all they could to make this election succeed in the face of daunting odds. Then help make sure they don't have to do it by themselves again.