GOP aims to shrink the vote in 2022

    By Hal Burdett | 17 May 2021
    Capital Gazette

    (Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

    Those who thought Jim Crow – a predator that feeds on fear and hate – was an extinct species, wiped out by civil rights legislation enacted more than 50 years ago, may soon have a rude awakening.

    Stretching from the 1870s to the 1960s, the Jim Crow era was characterized by the suppression of the Black vote through poll taxes, literacy tests and other blatantly discriminatory tactics.

    In its updated iteration, Republican lawmakers in 47 states have filed more than 360 bills designed to restrict voting by Black and Hispanic citizens, who tend to lean Democratic. The proposals include reducing eligibility for absentee voting, limiting hours when ballots may be cast, and stringent and unnecessary ID requirements.

    Measures have been offered in more than 30 states to limit early voting that was utilized by 85 million voters, more than half of all voters last November.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a bill that makes it more difficult for state residents to cast votes by mail and to access secure ballot boxes. And almost certain to be enacted is Texas legislation to prohibit sending mail ballot applications to registered voters if they did not specifically request one. The bill would also expand the powers of partisan poll watchers.

    Marc Elias, a Democratic elections attorney, contends that the defining feature of the Republican party in the 2022 congressional elections in both competitive and non-competitive states will be neither economic or social issues, but rather, “shrinking the vote.”

    Mandi Merritt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, argues that the plethora of election bills presented by GOP lawmakers is a matter of “protecting election security, (including) aggressively engaging at the state level on voting laws and litigating as necessary.”

    “I can’t help wonder why, after the Trump administration’s top election security officials … vouched for the integrity of the last election, did seemingly every Republican-controlled legislative body in the country … file and move suppression bills,” counters Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse , D-Rhode Island.

    Former President Donald J. Trump and his supporters continue to claim that the 2020 election was decided by millions of fraudulent votes; a lack of security to prevent ballot theft; sending mail ballots to deceased voters; double and triple counting of Democratic ballots, and accepting vanloads of forged ballots.

    None of these allegations have been substantiated, despite more than 60 court filings by Trump’s lawyers.

    Non-Hispanic white people are still the majority race in the United States, representing 59.7 percent of the total population. But the white share has been decreasing since 1950.

    “Eventually, whites will become the minority, dropping below 50 percent around the year 2045,” says demographer Dudley Posten, Jr., a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University.

    Meanwhile, a few high-profile Republicans, including Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) have not been shy about publicly expressing their feeling that their party has an overwhelming numerical disadvantage that it is unable to overcome. Rather than investing more effort towards winning the hearts and minds of voters, the GOP has embraced the expedient of shrinking rather than expanding the electorate.

    “The lie of massive, rampant voter fraud is serving the same function today as it did during the rise of Jim Crow,” says Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “It strikes fear in a segment of the population that democracy is in peril, and thus provides cover for laws that target Blacks with race-neutral language in the 21st century.”

    Reprinted with permission from the author.

    Hal Burdett is a longtime political writer in Maryland and a freelance contributor to The Capital.

    Legislators in 47 states consider controversial election laws

    Republican ‘Power Grab’: Florida Rep On His State’s New Voter Restriction Law | All In | MSNBC

    Republicans Who Don’t Want People to Vote

    Republicans Attempting To Make Voting More Difficult With 165 Restriction Laws | NBC News NOW

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