In April, the Democratic Party announced it would no longer use its longtime lawyer Marc Elias, and now we know why. The Democrats got tired of losing, or as Axios put it, Elias’ approach often “backfired.”
Elias himself does not tire of losing, and here’s why. His lawsuits — parading as a fight for “democracy” by tearing down voter ID, secure drop boxes, and signature matching — have nothing to do with our nation’s interests. Instead, as Elias’ allies admitted to Axios, his work is nothing more than “a political strategy that is actually a business strategy,” one that lined his pockets with roughly $20 million in revenue from just two clients during the 2020 election, all while generating crazed headlines about Republicans.
His cynical ploy to snatch headlines and dollars hasn’t slowed. Emboldened by an openly partisan Wisconsin Supreme Court, Elias’ firm is now suing to dismantle Wisconsin’s mail-in voting protections, like laws requiring that able-bodied voters mail or hand in their own ballot, arguing those laws violate the Wisconsin Constitution. It is a frivolous claim, but a well-funded one, by “one of the most secretive dark-money groups” of the recent past.
So the left’s leading “defender of democracy” is no superhero. He’s a businessman first and a politician second, nothing more.
Unfortunately, the left’s never-ending onslaught of activist litigation is far more harmful to our country than most get-rich-quick schemes. These lawsuits undermine the strength of our democratic institutions. They leave our elections exposed to manipulation and mistake. They cause people to believe a false tale about our states being run by racist politicians and election administrators. And they deprive citizens of the very popular electoral safeguards they themselves say provide the assurances needed to trust our elections.
This Is No Battle Against Jim Eagle
Let’s first address the notion that the left’s legal efforts combat voter suppression. If you listen to activists talk about the horrors of election safeguards, you might join President Biden in believing we are reliving the horrors of Jim Crow. That, however, is just a partisan narrative wholly divorced from reality. Study after study shows election integrity laws under assault from the left have little, if any, effect on voter turnout. As a result, the leftist legal arguments range from the inexplicable, like would-be voters’ alleged inability to obtain a free, readily available ID card, to the comical, like the alleged inability of urban and suburban voters to access a mailbox. In fact, record numbers of Americans are choosing to vote and expressing high levels of satisfaction with the process.
Still, the left claims, it must oppose election safeguards because those safeguards are unnecessary. Fraud, misconduct, and errors are too rare to justify preventative measures, the narrative goes. And that’s where the danger creeps in.
Close Is Not Good Enough
The truth is that sometimes electoral problems are widespread. A second election had to be held for a congressional seat in North Carolina a few years ago because of a scheme to steal that election using mail-in ballots. Another election was recently overturned and rerun in Paterson, New Jersey. In the 2020 election, without even looking very hard, Philadelphia identified nearly two dozen people who had voted twice. And just in this past election, an error in California resulted in the wrong person being declared the winner and taking office.
In general, our elections are far from perfect. Sometimes, they’re not even “good enough.”
This should matter to us all. As Americans, we deserve elections that are accurate beyond a shadow of a doubt. We deserve elections that can be trusted implicitly. And we deserve elections that convey the people’s true will with respect to the future paths of our country, our states, and our cities and towns — not just their general direction.
Sloppy Elections Sabotage Our Democratic Governance
Trust and confidence are essential elements of any system of democratic governance. Elections conducted in an atmosphere of distrust and doubt cannot be relied upon to produce democratic results.
After all, every single instance of fraud, misconduct, or error deprives a citizen of his vote. A single duplicate or otherwise unlawful vote cancels out another’s vote. And even isolated incidents have a corrosive effect on citizens’ trust in their elections. When courts strike down efforts to prevent such incidents, it is not surprising for citizens to begin to believe that their vote might be meaningless.
Indeed, a vote lost due to fraud, misconduct, error, or even despair, is at least as disenfranchising — if not more disenfranchising — than one lost due to an obstacle imposed by an election integrity measure. Voters affected by election integrity measures have many opportunities to salvage their situation. They can obtain the required ID, take extra care when filling out their election materials, and can almost always fix any mistake before the election closes. But those who lose their votes to fraud, misconduct, error, and despair are powerless to protect their vote. They are just out of luck.
American elections play a crucial role in determining the future of our nation. They must take place in an environment that inspires trust and they must produce accurate representations of the will of our citizens. Not only are the left’s unceasing legal efforts mere partisan, money-making opportunities, as is now openly acknowledged across the political spectrum, they are untethered to promoting democracy. It’s time to put this business strategy out of business.