So you can’t win? Oh well. Just change the rules, just cheat.
Like termites chewing away at a foundation, a full-scale assault against American Democracy is underway.
In 40 states (at last count) more than 250 voting-suppression laws have been approved or are under consideration, mainly by Republican-controlled legislatures. To their credit, some Republican legislators and party officials are condemning some of the most egregious efforts to limit access to voting but apparently to no avail.
Throughout the years, that five-alarm charge of rampant voting fraud has been completely debunked, yet the bunk continues. More so now than ever because “The Big Lie” (an electoral victory “stolen” from Donald Trump) has now become “The Big Excuse” – the excuse to further suppress voting.
It’s no surprise that among the most flagrant anti-voting laws are those being concocted in three battleground states: Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona. These states not only went for Joe Biden, but they were the states a defeated Trump bullied – cajoling and wheedling for their officials to overturn the election outcomes.
And the targets of the voting suppression? Make no mistake: it’s Black voters, other minorities and younger voters. Those are the ones who turned out by the millions to help elect Biden and other Democrats – especially in Georgia where a highly successful go-vote campaign energized Black voters.
As the nation’s demographic profile becomes more diverse, many Republicans have a queasy feeling they could be heading for electoral difficulties. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus warned them about that precarious dilemma in 2013. They must, he said, make an ambitious effort to “transform” the party, partly by outreach efforts to minorities to make the Republican Party a “big tent” with room for all.
The biggest bogeyman feared by voting suppressionists is the mail-in ballot. Because of the pandemic, voting by mail was widely used by voters in the 2020 election – especially by Democrats, causing the sputtering uproar by sore losers and their baseless accusations about millions of fraudulent mailed-in ballots.
Thus, it’s no surprise that mail ballots are a target of suppressionists. Other forms of The Great Suppression are hurdles in an insidious obstacle course that includes fewer early-voting days, elimination of ballot drop-boxes, fewer and far-flung polling places, the purging of voter rolls based on specious reasons, and taking away the right to vote on Sundays, which Blacks do in many areas after church services.
There is even a nasty law in Georgia that now makes it illegal to bring water or food to people waiting in long lines at polling places.
Such low-down tactics go hand-in-hand with gerrymandering, the skewing of congressional district lines for partisan benefit.
Newly elected Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock put it this way: “We are witnessing right now a massive and unabashed assault on voting rights unlike anything we have seen since the Jim Crow era. This is Jim Crow in new clothes.”
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a vital part of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, a provision that states must first get permission before changing voting requirements. The Court suggested Congress clarify/fix that provision. Congress did not.
The House of Representatives has proposed two bills to guarantee voting rights, a big push-back to these attacks against free and fair elections. Dubbed the “For the People Act” and the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” the bills would reinstate all the provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and would prevent states from passing arbitrary, spiteful, blatant voter-suppression schemes.
Will the Senate approve those bills? Not likely if that stonewalling filibuster kicks in, requiring a 60-40 vote for it to be approved. That is why conscientious Democrats and Republicans must do everything legally possible to push aside or change that filibuster threat. Every patriotic American should support that supremely important effort.
It’s time the United States again sets an example for us and for the world – that every citizen must have the absolute right and opportunity to cast a vote in a free and fair election.