As French elections come to a close, one stark difference between elections in France and the United States has been brought to light, leaving many Americans wishing our country had not abandoned the practice.
According to exit polls, the current president of France, Emmanuel Macron, will be facing a run-off election against the National Rally candidate, Marine Le Pen, on April 24. During the first round of voting on April 10, Macron led with 27.6% of the vote, compared to Le Pen, who received just 23.0%.
According to Robert Hutchinson, of the American Thinker:
“As in America, politics in France is less about ideology than it is about class.
Macron and his allies represent the technocratic elite — Macron was an investment banker before becoming a politician — for whom the erasure of national identity, mass immigration, and ‘luxury beliefs’ such as redefining marriage are no big deal. Macron and his rich friends make money no matter how much gasoline costs.
As in America, in France, the elitism of progressives like Macron has triggered a massive backlash and the rise of populist movements such as the ‘gilets jaunes’ (yellow vest) demonstrations and the ‘extreme right,’ as represented by Marine Le Pen and the National Rally.”
Many ordinary French people did exactly what some Americans did with Joe Biden: held their noses and voted for the person that they thought was competent, instead of the populist rabblerouser.
But, there is one significant way in which French elections differ from those in the United States: they still conduct them the old-fashioned way.
The French people still cast their votes in person, using paper ballots, which are hand counted. They do not use election machines that are run by a handful of private corporations, and are required to show a photo ID and sign a document to complete the process.
In 1975, the French decided that mail-in ballots were vulnerable to fraud and undermined public confidence in the legitimacy of the vote, and therefore decided to make them illegal for everyone except those serving prison sentences.
All of these tried-and-true methods still utilized in French elections were eliminated in the U.S. long ago, leaving our elections more vulnerable, and Americans are not happy about it.
An Ipsos poll conducted in January of 2022 revealed only 20% of American voters said that they were ‘very confident’ that U.S. elections are fair and honest, which was down from 37% just one year earlier. Looking at just Republicans, that number drops to just 13%, with 58% stating that they have little to no faith in the honesty of U.S. national elections.
A similar poll conducted in 2018 showed that Democrats agree, despite their newfound claims to the contrary. The poll showed that left-wing voters believed that Russia had “tampered with vote tallies [in the 2016 election] in order to get Donald Trump elected President.”
In comparison, French citizens have relatively high confidence in the accuracy and fairness of their elections.
The widespread use of mail-in ballots, dropping requirements for ID to vote in many states, the use of election machines and various other non-traditional voting practices may at least be partially to blame for the disparity in confidence between the two countries.