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EDITORIAL: There is no need to federalize elections

It looks as if Nevada’s elections will run next year based on laws passed in Carson City, not Washington, D.C. Good.

For months, national Democrats have prioritized passage of H.R. 1, which would federalize elections. Regardless of the specific policies it would impose, the proposal was a brazen power grab by the federal government. State officials have traditionally overseen their states’ elections, including for federal offices. States were free to set their own rules based on their own unique circumstances when it came to things such as absentee voting, photo ID and early voting.

Differences aren’t inherently problematic. Federalism is an important part of the Constitution. Congress does have the constitutional authority to create some laws regarding federal elections. Even so, it should defer to the states absent a compelling justification.

At points in our nation’s history, there was clear justification. For decades, some states erected hurdles to limit the African American vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 properly intervened in that regard.

Much has changed in the decades since then. Voter turnout in the 2020 election set a record high. African American voters had a higher turnout rate in 2020 than in 2016, according to the Census Bureau. Analyst Dave Wasserman credited “phenomenal” turnout among Black Georgia voters for electing two Democrats to the U.S. Senate in their state’s runoff election.

Democrats claim that new election laws passed in Republican-controlled states are an attack on minority voting rights. Those claims fall apart under even the smallest amount of scrutiny. For instance, the new Georgia law requires at least 17 days of early voting. Delaware, the state President Joe Biden represented for decades in the Senate, didn’t even have early voting during the past election.

There isn’t a compelling reason to let the federal government micromanage state-run elections. The provisions H.R. 1 seeks to impose are especially concerning. It would require states to have automatic, same-day and online voter registration. It would ban voter ID laws. It would limit the ability of election officials to clear the rolls of voters who have moved or are inactive. It would legalize ballot harvesting.

Fortunately, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has said he opposes the bill, which means it doesn’t have enough support to pass the Senate. That’s a good thing. From the post office to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government’s track record of running things leaves much to be desired.

Nevada’s election laws should be set by the people of Nevada and their elected representatives, not Democrats inside the faraway Beltway.

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