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Bill Straub: Let’s try to put our understanding around this — ‘legal’ voting is somehow a problem


Sen. Rand Paul is renowned for expressing some, well, shall we politely say, unorthodox views during his time on the public stage, like convincing the dull-headed to toss away their masks in seeming defiance of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now the ophthalmologist cum lawmaker from Bowling Green is branching out, spreading his unconventional wisdom into the field of political science, suggesting that the best way to steal an election is through legal voting.

You read that correctly. Illegal voting, it seems, isn’t a problem in Paul’s addled mind. It’s those damn citizens who submit their ballots under legitimate election laws that are causing all the damage.

The NKyTribune’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com

Our boy Rand made his views known this week via Twitter, citing an article that appeared in a publication called The American Conservative regarding the influence of Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook guy, on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin.

Paul stated:

How to steal an election: “Seeding an area heavy with potential Democratic votes with as many absentee ballots as possible, targeting and convincing potential voters to complete them in a legally valid way, and then harvesting and counting the results.”

Now, before the senator’s stunning revelation, it was thought that most elections in these United States were duly decided by the submission of ballots “in a legally valid way.” Paul apparently believes legally cast votes are actually being used to pilfer elections in some clandestine, underhanded manner, depriving candidates he favors from obtaining the high positions they are destined to hold.

The claim here demonstrates the jaundiced view Paul and most Republicans hold for the ballot box, seeing it as a deterrent to obtaining the power rightfully theirs, public involvement or no. They are particularly horrified by the spread of absentee voting that permits lawfully registered citizens to mail in their ballots rather than show up to polling places, near for some and distant for others, where they can spend the day waiting in line, as if they were trying to register a car at the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The more absentee ballots become popular at this time and place, data shows, the better for Democrats. That means, rather than seeing to it that their voters take the same, efficient advantage of this voting procedure as Democrats, Republicans seek to crush it like an ant.

In Kentucky, at least, the 1891 Constitution stands in the GOP way. Joshua Douglas, the Thomas P. Lewis Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky, an expert on election law, notes that Section 147 holds that “…all elections by the people shall be by secret official ballot, furnished by public authority to the voters at the polls, and marked by each voter in private at the polls, and then and there deposited, or any person absent from the county of his legal residence, or from the state, may be permitted to vote in a manner provided by law.”

So absentee balloting is in the Constitution and was used widely in the Commonwealth in the 2020 election, owing in large measure to the pandemic. While the language directs that absentee ballots be provided for those out of the county or state on Election Day, Douglas maintains the constitutional provision is “a floor — the state must allow some absentee voting — but it’s not a ceiling on how much the legislature may permit.”

While the expansion in this instance was authorized by Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and Secretary of State Michael Adams, a Republican, without specific direction from the legislature, Douglas said the two officials “jointly expanded who could vote absentee using the authority delegated to them by the legislature.”

In Paul’s obviously skewed view, it’s Section 147 that’s being used to steal elections.

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Regardless, Paul, a notorious crank, is again showing his true colors. His provocative tweet was distributed to foster doubts about the legitimate outcome of past elections, particularly the 2020 presidential contest between Republican Donald J. Trump and President Biden, insinuating that Democrats only win elections though surreptitious means, simultaneously and stupidly acknowledging those means are legal.

Earlier this month, during a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Paul doubled down on the complete and utter falsehood that Trump’s re-election was stolen from him through some secret intrigue.

“The fraud happened,” Paul lied. “The election, in many ways, was stolen. And the only way it will be fixed is by, in the future, reinforcing the laws.”

Understand, I’m not going to spend any time here refuting the bull the senator from Bowling Green is slinging. It’s been done conclusively too many times to count.

He’s spewing filth that undermines the world’s longest tenured democracy. And he’s using the fog over the legitimate election outcome, the fog he created along with Trump and many other half-wits, to undermine election laws and turn them to the clear advantage of the Republican Party. And they are doing it under the phony, trumped-up guise of election security.

This from the Brennan Center for Justice:

“Between January 1 and December 7, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions. These numbers are extraordinary: state legislatures enacted far more restrictive voting laws in 2021 than in any year since the Brennan Center began tracking voting legislation in 2011. More than a third of all restrictive voting laws enacted since then were passed this year. And in a new trend this year, legislators introduced bills to allow partisan actors to interfere with election processes or even reject election results entirely.”

This is being done almost exclusively in states with Republican-controlled legislatures.

What is being wrought here is a giant con game on the American public – lie about the circumstances regarding the 2020 election, convince the citizenry that the lie is true, use the lie under the false flag of election security to change said laws to the GOP’s advantage.

It’s a three-card monte game without the cards. Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, the House has passed two measures to enhance voting rights, including one bill named in honor of the late Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat whose life’s work centered on giving everyone the opportunity to vote.

Senate Republicans, led by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, of Louisville, won’t even permit the upper chamber to debate the legislation.

Shame.

• • • • •

A tribute to Jack Brammer

Permit me to rise on a point of personal privilege to honor the great Jack Brammer, who is retiring after more than 40 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Jack Brammer

Jack has been a personal friend of mine for more than 35 years and I can say without reservation that he has filled his role with honor, distinction, integrity and great talent. He knows the ins and out of the commonwealth’s government and politics as well as anyone and the paper will find it impossible to replace him.

If Jack wrote it, you could take it to the bank.

That said, what I really want to note is that Jack is perhaps the only person I know or I’ve ever met who is universally loved. Everybody loves Jack, not because he was, or rather is, a terrific reporter, but because he is kind and decent, qualities that are hard to find. Even his stupid jokes and puns, and lord knows there were many, are somehow ingratiating.

It was an honor to compete against him and I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing him happy trails.


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3 Comments

  1. Scott Strouse says:

    What a good column!I wish more Kentuckians would see that the people who represent them are out for themselves.Ie Mitch ,Rand,Massie.

  2. Richard says:

    The best way to ensure our elections are secure is for people to register ahead of time, show up on election day, provide an ID and vote. Absentee voting used to be the exception, but now it seems the preferred method. Politicians in more liberal states have not taken a cautious approach to approving new voting methods, such as mail in voting. It now takes a week or two for some states to ‘verify’ ballots and declare a winner. Gone are the days when we knew a presidential winner the night or even the next day after an election. Democrats want more voters at the polls, but don’t seem to care about integrity and security. It’s all about winning at any cost.

  3. Bill, I appreciate and agree with your kind words about Jack Brammer he was and still is a great reporter.
    However, your story and bias about Senator Rand Paul and his observations about the 2020 election is in line with the media machine still trying to convince the American people that the election was not corruption ridden. I will say one positive thing about your article, I actually believe that you believe what you write. I have a suggestion for you. RUN FOR STATEWIDE OFFICE SOMEWHERE AND MAYBE YOU WILL BE AWAKENED TO REALITY THAT ELECTIONS CAN AND WILL BE RIGGED AS LONG AS THE EVIL OF SIN ABOUNDS. It is every citizens responsibility, to do whatever possible within the law, to protect the integrity of all of our elections. IT’S THE HOLY SPIRITS JOB TO CONVICT AND GOD’S JOB TO JUDGE AND MY JOB TO LOVE AND I LOVE your intelligence and you. However, sometimes even the old hound dog flops over to the other side just to get the fleas off before they devour you. The biggest fleas is the money and technology and corporate olygaric REGIME tied to The China communists regime that is the real fixer of the ballots box.

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