[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Politics.]
By Susan Crabtree
Real Clear Politics
After the bitterly contested 2000 presidential election recount ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court — thanks to Florida’s “hanging chads,” confusing butterfly ballots, and partisan chaos in the state’s courts — Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the Help America Vote Act.
The bipartisan law provided funds to states to get rid of those pesky voting punch-cards with the hanging chads that plagued the recount. Among other mandates, it also implemented several new safeguards, requiring states and localities to purge their voter rolls of dead people and anyone who had relocated out of state.
Republicans touted it as a law that made it “easier to vote and harder to cheat” while Democrats dubbed it the first civil rights law of the 21st century. It passed the House 357-48 and the Senate 92-2 after a nearly two-year vetting process.
A polar opposite political response is playing out in the wake of the tumultuous 2020 election results that placed Joe Biden in the White House and sent Donald Trump packing. The contentious election and the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by extremist Trump supporters convinced that victory had been stolen them obliterated any lingering bipartisan consensus on how best to fix the nation’s voting laws to ensure voter participation while rebuilding trust in the system.