Writing in New York Magazine this Monday, columnist Jonathan Chait contends that a GOP-employed tactic to suppress voting rights is not getting a lot of attention from media, namely a massive ramp up in fines and criminal penalties for election workers who violate any of the greatly expanded restrictions on voting access.
"The insidious aspect of this method is that it is facially neutral: Who would object to penalizing officials for breaking election laws?" Chait writes. "And yet the effect is to create asymmetric pressure on officials to suppress the vote themselves."
An obvious effect of the penalties, as Chait points out, is to discourage election workers from volunteering in the first place.
"But the more dangerous possibility is that these penalties will cause election workers to err heavily on the side of vote suppression. In the real world, government bureaucracy, like many workplaces, involves messy and sometimes confusing situations," Chait writes. "Employees make spot decisions based on incomplete information, balancing competing priorities against each other. Election Day often presents opportunities for confusion, such as voters who have moved from one state or precinct to another, can't remember where they registered, and have limited time in their work day to sort it all out or present the necessary paperwork. The Republican strategy is to stack the incentive deck heavily, so that election officials would rather turn away 100 legal voters than to allow one ineligible ballot to be cast."
Read the full article over at New York Magazine.