In a political environment rife with cynicism and hypocrisy, the most egregious embodiment of such traits is the claim by the Republican Party that the election is rigged against them. Party officials, oftentimes following the lead of the president and the White House, rail against Democrats in some way suppressing Republican votes or committing outright voter fraud through the expansion of mail-in voting. President Donald Trump has often tweeted as much: in a tweet from May 26, 2020, the President wrote, “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed.”
Twitter attached a label to this tweet, warning viewers about its falsehoods, and of course, the tweet was followed up with no evidence of such crimes being committed. Even election experts from within the Republican Party say that these claims are false. Benjamin Ginsberg, a Republican election attorney who has spent nearly 40 years dealing with election laws, published an opinion piece in The Washington Post recently claiming that Trump’s claims about mail-in voting are backed by “insufficient evidence.” What there is evidence of, however, is the Republican Party attempting outright to not only disenfranchise voters but also suppress votes through intimidation and interference.
In the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, 2020, Trump told his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.” Within the following weeks, the Trump campaign published videos that taught citizens how to go into the polls, stand around, and watch other people cast their votes. While the laws on “poll watchers” differ by state, the term itself carries an uncomfortable connotation of voter suppression in the past, usually directed against minorities.
A more direct act of voter suppression was recently undertaken by Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R). The governor signed an order that restricted the deployment of ballot drop-off boxes to one per county, even in counties like Harris County, Texas, where over four million people live. Fortunately, a judge recently overturned the order, saying, “The limitation to a single drop-off location for mail ballots would likely … needlessly and unreasonably substantially burden voters’ constitutionally protected rights to vote.” The reasoning behind Gov. Abbott’s action was one that is often argued by the Republican Party, including the president: more drop-off locations increase the risk for election fraud, an argument once again supported by no evidence.
Where the irony and hypocrisy become truly sickening, however, is in a recent story from California. The California GOP began putting out its own ballot drop-off boxes, an act that the state’s Secretary of State and Attorney General have deemed illegal. Despite this, and the Secretary of State’s cease-and-desist order, the GOP has indicated that they have no intention of walking back this action. It is pathetic, truly, that the party that cries election fraud as an excuse to limit the voting rights of citizens is the party that commits the most election fraud. What if, however, this was really the strategy all along?
The election of Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 spurred the Republican Party into voter-suppression action in the following years. In 2010, the party used the census and election victories in state legislatures to gerrymander districts that ensured they held majorities in not only those state legislatures but also the House of Representatives. According to a 2014 PBS article written by Stephen Ohlemacher, “In 2012, Republicans maintained a 33-seat majority in the House, even though GOP candidates as a group got 1.4 million fewer votes than their Democratic opponents.” This sort of practice has perpetrated minority rule in the United States, and it doesn’t stop at the legislative body. A study titled “Anti-Democracy Scorecard” by the group Take Back the Court has found that judges appointed by Republicans issue anti-democracy rulings at a rate of 80%, compared to a rate of 37% by Democratic judges. To take a closer look at the methodology, go to https://www.takebackthecourt.today/antidemocracy-scorecard. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act that prevented jurisdictions with a history of discrimination from changing voting rules without prior approval. The vote was 5-4, with all five justices in the majority opinion having been appointed by Republican presidents, including two justices (Roberts and Alito) who were appointed by a president that lost the popular vote (George W. Bush).
What has become ever more clear is that the Republican party is not a party that supports the rights of all citizens to be involved fairly in the democratic process. To have one of the two major political parties in this country be against constitutional rights is a travesty, and it must not be condoned or supported. Vote them out.