Voting restrictions, devoid of evidence, threaten election fairness

Only once this century, in six presidential elections, has a Republican candidate garnered more popular votes than his Democratic opponent. It was 2004 when incumbent President George W. Bush narrowly won popular and electoral votes and was re-elected.

Ballot drop boxes, decried as a nefarious tool by Republican critics, did not cause major problems when many states increased their use during the COVID-19 pandemic, an investigation by the Associated Press with state election officials published this month. “No instances of fraud, vandalism or theft that could have affected the results” were uncovered, the AP said. The results were the same in GOP- and Democrat-controlled states.

As the bar has risen for Republican candidates to win the presidency and their claims that drop boxes harmed the integrity of the election have been debunked, the dilemma facing the party nationwide is clear. . The problem is not that people are voting illegally on a massive scale. It’s that the Republicans have less chance of winning votes.

When you add the party’s enmity toward non-whites over the past half-century and the nation’s changing demographics, their situation becomes even more delicate.

How have Republican state lawmakers reacted? Have they changed their platform and reach with African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans? Have they asked why some voters prefer to vote in advance and by mail, and why drop boxes are so convenient?

Please.

They have shown that they don’t care at all about evidence, including the absence of electoral wrongdoing. And they’ve revealed just how politically rogue — and racially discriminatory — they can be.

States Newsroom, the national nonprofit that includes the Virginia Mercury, recently reported that since the 2020 election, 26 states have passed, expanded, or increased the severity of 120 election-related criminal penalties. Of that total, 102 have been enacted in 18 Republican-controlled states.

Many of these new laws target voters, election officials, or people who help voters. The Republican governor of Georgia, for example, signed a law criminalizing people who give food or drink to voters waiting in line at the polls.

So much for keeping your compatriot from Atlanta from fainting.

The Georgia law will have a huge impact on communities of color. ProPublica reported in 2020 that Georgia’s voter rolls have grown significantly since 2013, but polling places have been reduced by nearly 10%, with metro Atlanta particularly hard hit. The city’s population is 50% black.

These new laws followed then-President Donald Trump’s repeated lies about his election day defeat, including in Georgia. He suffered dozens of losses in courts across the country trying to overturn the result.

Trump then instigated an insurrection on January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol. The coup attempt is now the focus of a US House of Representatives select committee. The Justice Department is also investigating Trump’s actions as part of its criminal investigation.

GOP lawmakers across the country might not have known all the details about Jan. 6 that the special committee has since made public. Surely they knew, however, what then-US Attorney General Bill Barr said shortly after the election: the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that would have overturned the result.

These lawmakers also knew that Trump was — is — a serial, and shameless, prevaricator. The Washington Post has recorded more than 30,000 lies and misleading claims he made during his four years in office, including more than 500 as he raged around the nation on the eve of the 2020 election.

“What is particularly striking is how the tsunami of untruths steadily increased over his tenure as president,” reported The Post, “and became increasingly detached of the truth”.

Many Republicans, if given the truth serum, would admit that they don’t believe most of Trump’s statements. They are loyal to him, however, as he has a huge base of voter support. Such is their profile in cowardice.

Something more, however – something unsavory, lazy and cynical – is also driving this overabundance of voting restrictions.

Republicans want to stay in power at all costs. They fear the changing demographics of a country that is becoming less white and where Republicans have often struggled to secure enough electoral votes to win the presidency. They are part of a party traditionally inhospitable to people of color.

Thus, they make it more difficult for non-whites to vote, under the guise of “electoral security”. This ploy is easier to pull off than a serious re-examination of your own party’s policies and rhetoric.

“It’s clear that the vast majority of these laws are driven by conspiracies and lies about stealing the 2020 election,” Jonathan Diaz, senior legal counsel for suffrage at the Campaign Legal Center told me this week. partisan.

“The real reason behind them is the overwhelming turnout in 2020,” he added, “especially in communities of color.”

Diaz noted that the crackdown on the ballot, especially for disenfranchised elders, is nothing new: “Restrictions on racially motivated voting…are as old as the republic,” he said. he noted.

Virginia, incidentally, facilitated the vote when the governor at the time. Ralph Northam was in power and the Democrats controlled the General Assembly. State Republicans then held the Governor’s chair and the State House in the 2021 elections under these laws.

Despite Governor Glenn Youngkin’s flirtation with the issue of “election integrity” during the campaign trail, he backtracked on the subject during his tenure. As long as the state Senate remains under Democratic control, major restrictions on voting are unlikely to be reinstated.

However, all Assembly seats will be eligible for re-election in 2023.

Democratic-leaning national groups must decide how to attack anti-democratic and Machiavellian tactics aimed at minimizing or rejecting their voice. They can choose disenchantment and isolation. Or they can choose continued large-scale protest and revolt.

Neither choice is desirable.

Nor is it a blatant attack on the ballot box, built on a tower of lies.

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