Voters in Alabama got this robocall last week from “Bernie Bernstein”:
I’m a reporter for The Washington Post calling to find out if anyone at this address is a female between the ages of 54 to 57 years old, willing to make damaging remarks about candidate Roy Moore for a reward of between $5,000 and $7,000. We will not be fully investigating these claims however we will make a written report.
This anti-Semitic travesty would violate Maryland law.
It is a crime to “influence or attempt to influence a voter’s voting decision through the use of force, threat, menace, intimidation, bribery, reward, or offer of reward.”
Shortly before the 2002 general election in Maryland, a flyer was distributed in neighborhoods of color urging people to vote on the Thursday after Election Day and implying that you couldn’t vote if you owed rent, child support, or parking tickets.
I responded by sponsoring the bill that made it illegal to “influence or attempt to influence a voter’s decision whether to go to the polls to cast a vote through the use of force, fraud, threat, menace, intimidation, bribery, reward, or offer of reward.” (emphasis added)
This is the fraud that is degrading our election process. Not the fake fraud that is the basis for Republican efforts to limit access to the ballot.
My bottom line: The law should benefit people or prevent them from being harmed without unduly burdening the rights of those whose conduct is being regulated or criminalized..
One example is voter fraud.
To what extent should we impose barriers to the exercise of this fundamental right when seeking to prevent individuals from voting illegally?
The Congress struck the proper balance when it enacted the Help America Vote Act in the wake of the Florida recount in 2000.
In addition to official government documents, proof of residency can be demonstrated by a person’s address on a rent notice or a utility bill.
My legislation, which was enacted, adopts that federal standard when an individual’s right to vote is challenged at a polling location.
A second example of that balancing act is gun control.
Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th-century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.
Who wrote that? It was Justice Scalia in his majority opinion striking down DC’s gun control law.
When the members of the Congress, the General Assembly, or any other legislative body seek to prevent the loss of life due to firearms, we must do so without violating the 2nd Amendment rights of gun owners.
But we can do so, as Justice Scalia pointed out.
And we must.