Record turnout in this year’s election is throwing Republicans into a tailspin.
They do not want democracy.
They want oligarchy.
But they know Americans outside the extremely wealthy do not.
So to maintain their wealthy donors’ hegemony, they work tirelessly to prevent voters from exercising their civic duty to choose whom they want to represent them.
Why else would they be working so hard to suppress votes?
They can’t win unless they cheat.
Hours-long wait times and reduction of polling locations and absentee ballot drop-off points were no accident.
If you think this year was a mess, wait until next year.
Wait until 2024 when it’s time to elect (or re-elect) a new president.
Myrna Pérez, Brennan Center for Justice director of voting rights and elections program, explained:
“There will be some states where it is very clear that the existing power structure is worried about their voters. And part of their job security plan is to make it harder for their voters to participate.”
Why those two states specifically?
Because their electorates are becoming more diverse.
And if there is one thing the GOP will not tolerate, it’s diversity.
Myrna Pérez said:
“I am not at all surprised to see this happening in Texas and Georgia that I think are on the cusp of a big shift. You have some dinosaurs who are not going to stay in power much longer trying to suppress votes.”
They want to eliminate ballot drop boxes.
They want to require picture ID accompany mail-in ballots.
All Georgians are currently eligible for mail-in voting, but Republicans seek to pass a law requiring voters produce an excuse to vote by mail, something some states, like New York, recently reversed.
University of Georgia political science professor, Charles Bullock, pointing out how blatant the GOP’s voter suppression has gotten, said:
“Now, they’re clearly operating on the premise that: ‘fewer votes, we win’. Making it harder to do absentee voting, assuming we don’t remain all locked in our homes because of the pandemic, that may hurt Republicans more than Democrats. It’s kind of a simple, kneejerk reaction to an election they very narrowly lost.”
Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda executive director, Helen Butler, added:
“I’m just gonna be honest, more white people used vote by mail than people of color, because they didn’t trust the process–now that we’ve got them trusting the process, now they want to go in and change the rules.”
A couple of weeks after election day, the Georgia Board of Elections issued a directive allowing county election supervisors to block new voter registrations from those who do not have cars registered in the state.
Georgia has been at the forefront of Republican election theft the past few years as Democrats and civil rights groups have accused Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his predecessor, Gov. Brian Kemp, of intentionally purging the state’s voter rolls and encouraging polling places to consolidate.
As Secretary of State, Brian Kemp had direct jurisdiction over the voter rolls, yet he refused to vacate his position while running for governor in 2018 against Democratic challenger, former Georgia House minority leader, Stacy Abrams.
A month before the 2018 election, The Associated Press reported under Kemp’s charge, at least 53,000 voter registration applications–mostly from black voters–are being delayed for “additional screening.”
Kemp’s office froze registration applications supposedly flagged in the state’s “exact match” process in which each application must precisely match the state’s Department of Driver Services or Social Security Administration data. If they do not match, applicants are given an interval to correct discrepancies like misspelled names, middle names not being fully stated, or missing hyphens.
More than 85,000 Georgia voters were purged from rolls in just the three months leading up to election day in 2016, in what National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president Derrick Johnson called “textbook voter suppression.”
Then there’s Texas, a state already synonymous with voting suppression.
A federal judge later blocked the order.
The state Supreme Court then overturned the federal court’s ruling, allowing Gov. Abbott’s decree to stand.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked a lower court’s injunction two weeks before election day when it ruled state election officials were allowed to proceed with mail-in ballot purges without notifying voters if their signatures were in question.
This lead voters to believe their mail-in ballots are being counted without an opportunity to correct any discrepancies.
The same bill would compel the state to compare its voter rolls with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data in order to locate registered non-citizens, a tactic to be ineffective.
Common Cause Texas executive director, Anthony Gutierrez, reflecting on how those methods may play out in subsequent elections, said:
“There are definitely going to be those same efforts, like we saw during the election, to combat what local election administrators are doing to try and innovate to try and make voting more convenient and safer. Texas is always on the cutting edge of finding new ways to suppress the vote.”
In 2008, the Republican party was licking its wounds after the country elected its first African American president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.
But there was another, more insidious strategy.
Republicans knew they couldn’t come right out and criminalize voting, so they devised ways to make casting ballots harder, more inconvenient, and frustrating, hoping people would stay home rather than go through the rigmarole to practice their civic duty.
That’s when the term “voter fraud” started circulating around right-wing media.
Simply accuse random people (mostly immigrants) of voting illegally, and enough “patriots” would rise up in an altruistic fervor to fortify the most fundamental of democratic institutions against those who seek to denigrate it.
Some (mostly Republican) states began instituting “voter I.D.” laws, requiring birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, passports, to “protect election integrity.”
After all, minorities vote primarily for Democrats.
If they are to preserve their hegemony, Republicans must take evasive measures.
Voter fraud, however, is a myth.
University of Arizona Southwest Institute for Research on Women professor, Keith Bentele, who has studied voter suppression, affirms it is “extremely likely” Republicans would push more laws restricting voters’ access to the polls given their majority in state legislatures.
“Given the extraordinarily intense amplification of the voter fraud myth by President Trump and allies unfolding currently, it would seem odd if state legislators did not follow through with legislation to address these alleged (and in nearly all cases immaterial) issues of election integrity.”
Myrna Pérez said:
“What does it do to the American population to have to see our politicians being so self serving. So brazen in their attempts to make it harder for people to vote? It’s just gonna tell a really ugly story about America.”
Texas and Georgia, albeit two of the worst offenders, are not the only ones.
It’s quite possible the Republican party is solidifying its grip on our elections, and if that happens, there is very little any of us can do to prevent its further theft of democracy.
Since elections are determined at individual state levels, national voting standards are a start.
Since there is no affirmative right to vote in the Constitution, an amendment remedying that is imperative.
Image credit: Lehigh Valley Ramblings