“Democrats value as many people as possible voting… (Republicans) don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote – but everybody shouldn’t be voting,” state Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Ariz., on March 11.
The 2020 presidential election was one of the most secure elections in history. Former President Trump’s own officials made that clear.
“Top government security and election officials released a joint statement on Thursday definitively declaring that the presidential election last week ‘was the most secure in American history’ and making clear that ‘there is no evidence’ that any voting system was compromised in any way.” (New York Times, Nov. 12, 2020)
Despite that, Republicans have continued to spout the Big Lie that the election was stolen and Trump won, even though President Joe Biden got 7 million more votes. One reason Trump lost was the increased participation of minority voters who voted in large numbers for Biden. That’s been driving Republican officials crazy.
To prevent a recurrence of this display of democracy, Republicans in 43 states have been working to pass over 250 laws to restrict voting rights. They want to close polling places, limit voting hours and early voting days, restrict vote by mail, and impose other obstacles to people’s ability to vote.
They claim they’re preserving election integrity, but since Trump’s own officials confirmed the 2020 election was fair, that’s clearly false.
Historically, it’s been shown that when more people vote, Republicans lose. This isn’t a new phenomenon. In 1980, a conservative activist named Paul Weyrich, promoting Ronald Reagan’s candidacy, said, “So many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome: good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote…. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” (Daily Beast, March 23, 2021)
Because of this, Republicans know they win only if they prevent Democrats from voting. They got a big boost in June 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the pre-clearance provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The act required states which were planning to change their voting laws to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice. This kept states from changing laws solely to discriminate against minorities.
After the change, several states sprang into action, passing discriminatory election laws affecting mostly minority groups. Voters can sue to overturn these laws, but only after the election itself is over.
Democrats have been trying to correct this injustice ever since. The 117th Congress has proposed two laws to accomplish that goal, H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and H.R. 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
H.R. 1 would expand vote by mail and early voting, make it harder to purge legal voters, limit “dark” money spending, prevent foreign interference in elections, and generally keep elections free and fair. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is so afraid of this he said, “This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself.” (Washington Post, March 17)
H.R. 4 restores the pre-clearance provision. The Department of Justice would oversee the process.
In Nevada, our election was secure and successful, incorporating vote by mail and early voting. Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske confirmed this repeatedly. However, since Trump lost, Nevada Republicans keep screaming “Fraud!”
They claimed 42,000 Nevadans voted twice. In a 35-page order, Carson City District Judge James Russell wrote “the record does not support a finding that any Nevada voter voted twice.”
They claimed 1,500 dead people voted and 8,000 voters had nonexistent addresses. Russell affirmed that mail-in ballots were not delivered to “addresses where the addressee of the ballot was known to be deceased, known to have moved from that address, or had no affiliation with that address at all.” All their other claims were debunked just as definitively. (USA Today, Feb. 5)
Because Republicans can’t win on their ideas, their only chance is to suppress the vote. They’ve acknowledged this themselves. On March 30, 2020, Trump commented on a Democratic plan to increase vote by mail, early voting, and other policies to make voting easier.
“They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” On this, we agree with Trump.
When elections are fair, Democrats win. That scares Republicans to death, so they will do whatever they can to suppress the vote, even if they destroy our democracy in the process.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.