Set aside the would-be political boomerang effects of impeachment or even of having a presidential reelection candidate who seems to draw sustenance from public insults and personal boasts.
If you’re the Republican Party, apparently it is not enough to use the power of incumbency for reelection, or the argument that you cut taxes or that Donald Trump has been “keeping promises”—at least in a sort-of manner.
Republicans have tagged a coordinated attack on the voter rolls to try to assure electoral victory. Rather than celebrate the fact that more voters may want to join the 40% of us who troop loyally to the polls on all sides, Republicans repeatedly seems to be targeting those who might vote against them.
- In Wisconsin, a judge appointed by a Republican governor recently used an extreme and malicious interpretation of a Wisconsin state voting law to throw about 234,000 voters off state rolls. The decision on a case brought by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law &Liberty, to force the state elections commission to keep voting rolls up to date and drop voters within 30 days of not answering a letter of confirmation from the elections panel.
- In Georgia, it was the Republican Gov. Brian Kemp himself, the former secretary of state who had overseen voter operations and elections, who summarily disqualified 300,000 voters, overwhelmingly black and rural, from being able to vote. It was Kemp who used similar voter suppression techniques to defeat Stacey Adams, the former black Speaker of the House for governor. Adams has struck back with state and nationwide campaigns to foster voter registration.
- In Washington, Republicans stuck together to form enough opposition to kill what is called HR 4, a bill to reinstate various portions of the defunct Voters Rights Act to ensure balance in voter registration. The background here is that a decade ago, the U.S. Supreme Court had held the Voters Rights Act of 1965 no longer needed because it was adjudged by a majority of the court that states had stopped much of its history of voter suppression by race.
There are other cases as well, in Ohio and Texas, for example, but the trend is clear. The insurance policy Republicans seek is to limit the numbers of people who might vote, particularly in a situation where the thought is that new voters, like college students at a particular campus, or immigrants, might lean Democratic in registration and voting.
Republicans seek to limit the numbers of people who might vote, particularly in a situation where the thought is that new voters, like college students at a particular campus, or immigrants, might lean Democratic.
Meanwhile, Democratic efforts on voter registration are organized around finding new voters using guns, same-sex issues, and family economics as lures. The new Democratic governor in Kentucky, Andy Bashear, has added 140,000 to voter rolls by re-enabling felons who completed their sentences, something tried and squashed in Florida. Local campaigns have focused on campuses around the country.
Add to this the idea of the growing number of court challenges to partisan, gerrymandered districts, including those in North Carolina this year, and you have the outlines of a coordinated campaign. Each of the actions is local, but the overall impact will be felt in national elections.
A National Public Radio has noted, since the 2010 elections, 24 states have implemented new restrictions on voting. Alabama now requires a photo ID to cast a ballot. Other states such as Ohio and Georgia have enacted "use it or lose it" laws, which strike voters from registration rolls if they have not participated in an election within a prescribed period of time.
Mother Jones journalist Ari Berman, author of “Give Us the Ballot, ”has said that many of the restrictions are part of a broad, continuing Republican strategy to tighten access to the ballot — an effort that was bolstered in 2013 by the Supreme Court's ruling.
In Georgia, the state moved to block would-be voters if their voter registration application names on the voter registration did not exactly match other state databases, these voters were sent a letter telling them that their applications were pending and they needed to provide more information to election officials. Previously, these voters could show up and vote at the polls with the correct ID, but not vote by mail. If you got a letter in the mail that said there was a problem with your registration, you probably would think that you weren't eligible to vote.
The Associated Press reported that Justice Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s reelection campaign, was caught discussing 2020 voter suppression efforts while at a Wisconsin chapter meeting of the Republican National Lawyers Association, though Clark denies it and says he was discussing “false accusations” that the GOP engages in voter suppression.
Clark can be heard on tape at the event saying, “Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places. Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are.
Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”With all the talk about Russian attempts to influence the election, perhaps we should be looking closer to home for who’s trying their best to rig election results.
Personally, I wish we could all get behind the idea fundamental to the nation’s values – that everyone should be voting, and that each vote should count.
Let’s Make America Fair Again.