The Bryan Times,
Regarding the opinion piece by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose in The Bryan Times on March 10, "Congress must vote against HR1." I would like to offer a different point of view to his assertion that Congress must vote against HR1. Sec. LaRose points to the success of the Nov. 3, 2020 election in terms of Ohioans shattering the state’s all-time record for voter turnout. The November election was indeed a laudable, notable and unqualified success particularly when viewed as he states, “All of this in the middle of a crippling global pandemic with a toxic political environment, pervasive election disinformation, widespread civil unrest and uncertainty like we’ve never seen.” I couldn’t agree more.
Sec. LaRose and I part company, however, when he asserts that House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Schumer want to “wipe it all away with a massive power grab called HR1” that he characterizes as “their crisis opportunism.” Sec. LaRose cites Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution that proscribes the power of State Legislatures to set “Times, Places and Manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof,” but that the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing (CQ) Senators.” LaRose goes on to note that “in the Federalist Paper No. 59, Alexander Hamilton contended that such regulation was only necessary in extraordinary circumstances.” The Secretary then opines that “setting records for turnout and accessibility certainly doesn’t appear to qualify as an extraordinary circumstance.”
Perhaps not in Ohio, Sec. LaRose, but I would suggest that when 43 of the 50 states have proposed 250 laws to severely restrict voting rights in 2021, that qualifies as an extraordinary circumstance. This knee- jerk reaction to false claims about the 2020 election by Trump and his sycophantic supporters in Republican legislatures around the country is a renewed effort to disenfranchise voters. And not just any voters but predominantly voters of color who were able to turn out in large numbers in 2020 due to mail-in ballots, absentee ballots and early voting opportunities. Overarching federal laws have been necessary before in our country’s history to protect the rights of minorities, e.g., the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. The right to vote deserves no less. Congress should pass HR1 and provide that protection.
Timothy S. Foster