Elections Belong to the States

With Governor DeSantis’s firing of Soros-backed rogue Florida 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren, a very real question arises: “What business does a New Yorker have to do with elections in Florida?” Yes, Soros has US citizenship, but why is he poking his finger into Florida where he does not live? His three mansions are all in New York State.

For all state elections, it’s very clear that the state legislature has the authority to write laws about how they are conducted. For example, the legislature in Florida could declare that elections for state officeholders would only be on February 29, on Pi Day (March 14, 3.14 in European notation), or some other silly rule. But as long as that rule was applied evenly and did not prevent any particular group of otherwise eligible Florida voters from voting, it would be legal.

The same rule applies to voter registration. The 26th Amendment does require states to allow 18-year-olds to vote but otherwise creates no other specific rules. States are fully free to restrict non-citizens from voting because the 26th Amendment only guarantees the franchise to citizens. We could go on with a long list of other possible rules, but note that I have said absolutely nothing yet about federal elections.

Image: George Soros. YouTube screen grab.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, the so-called “Motor Voter Law,” lists a lot of rules about federal elections, so it’s important to understand the term:

Federal election means any general or special election or any primary held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting, nominating or electing any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, member of the United States Senate or member of the United States House of Representatives.

In short, a federal election is one in which someone who serves a function in the federal government is elected. And the Motor Voter law only applies to those elections.

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 adds a layer of federal bureaucracy to administering elections by funding various “non-controversial” bits of the mechanical parts of doing an election. For example, it can pay for voting machines and handicap access to polling places. Other laws have been passed to regulate how much a person can donate, how the funds can be used, and how they must be reported. But unless it’s hidden very well, there appears to be no legal concern about who can contribute to my local city councilman’s campaign. Or for that matter, to a District Attorney’s campaign. And this is where George Soros has chosen to meddle.

The Florida 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney is an officer of the state of Florida. Only registered voters in that part of Florida can vote in his election. And he is elected to uphold the laws of Florida within that Circuit. We must ask: “What part of that Circuit is in New York?” And the answer is intuitively obvious to the most casual observer: None! The Florida 13th Judicial Circuit is not in New York. So why is a New Yorker allowed to finance a campaign for that District Attorney? It makes no sense whatever.

We might take this a step further. If I live outside the 13th Judicial Circuit, but vote in that election, I’ve committed a crime. If my vote is counted, it offsets a legal vote from within the Circuit, disenfranchising someone who has a lawful right to have his vote counted. So why is George Soros allowed to fund that campaign? He has no rightful voice in it, yet his millions fund all sorts of campaign ads, which the Supreme Court has equated to speech with Citizens United.

If these campaigns within a state truly belong to the voters of that state, then it is only appropriate for them to fund candidates they support without any interference from outside. Why should Liz Cheney be able to raise more money from northern Virginia than her home state of Wyoming?   This would mean something very simple, and as far as I can tell, totally lawful.  A state can restrict all campaign funding to donors who are domiciled in that state. That fancy word means that they live there. I live in Orange County, Florida, so, if that were the law, I could contribute to campaigns in Florida. George Soros could not.

Under Citizens United, corporations can contribute as well but, again, we Floridians would require them to be domiciled in Florida. Amazon.com is domiciled in Washington State, so it (and Jeff Bezos, who also lives there) would be excluded. On the other hand, Darden Restaurants, EverBank, Harris Corporation, and Winn-Dixie would be just fine, since they are all domiciled in Florida.

As I search through the mountains of federal campaign finance rules, I find no rules addressing geographic limits on contributions. There’s a lot of record keeping and reporting, but I’ve found nothing to suggest that Florida could not adopt a similar restriction on Senate or House races. Senators and CongressCritters are elected from single states. They represent voters in those states. So why would Georgia allow Left Coast billionaires to buy two senators from Georgia? Could it be that John Ossoff and Raphael Warnock simply did not have the support in Georgia without a bunch of “walkin’ around money” for people who might not otherwise vote? Or did they need money to hire mules to stuff ballot boxes?

If all the money had come from Georgia, it’s unlikely that either Ossoff or Warnock would have been elected. But with Zuckerbucks, they had cash to do all the things they wanted to do, including the illegal ballot box stuffing that Dinesh D’Souza and his team documented.

Elections are affairs run by states for the benefit of citizens of those states. There is no justification for allowing out-of-state actors to massively fund in-state campaigns. This makes the individual voter feel like he has no ability to influence either a campaign or his elected representative. But when funding is restricted to in-state actors or even in-district actors, the concept of representation becomes much more real.

There’s no legal impediment that I can find that prevents a state from enacting this sort of restriction. Further, there’s no technical concern with extending it to the very district covered, since computer databases can be queried very quickly to identify eligibility. If we truly want election integrity, limiting election participation to citizens who are directly impacted by the specific electoral contest makes perfect sense.

UPDATE: This essay was updated to add a sentence about Liz Cheney's fundraising outside of Wyoming.

Ted Noel MD is a retired Anesthesiologist/Intensivist who podcasts and posts on social media as DoctorTed and @vidzette. His DoctorTed podcasts are available on many podcast channels.

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