What’s Really Rigged: Voter Suppression Measures

Photo: Colin Braley /Reuters

Photo: Colin Braley /Reuters

In contrast to DJT’s made-up, fever swamp allegations that the upcoming election will be “rigged” against him, there has been something going on in our electoral system in recent years that really does constitute deeply anti-democratic manipulation.

That’s the GOP’s determined efforts to use the fig leaf of alleged “fraud” to make it harder for “racial minorities and the young, populations that are more likely to vote for Democrats” to vote.  And this disturbing effort has accelerated since the Supreme Court’s striking down in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case of the Voting Rights Act’s “preclearance” process.

Just one example (of many!) from this NYRB piece by David Cole (emphasis added):

The day after [the Supreme Court decision came down], the chairman of the North Carolina Senate Rules Committee announced that the legislature “would now move ahead” on its voter ID bill. One month later the legislature passed a greatly expanded law that added a host of new voting restrictions. The new law curtailed early voting and eliminated same-day voting registration, provisional voting for those who mistakenly voted in the wrong precinct, and preregistration of sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds when they obtained their driver’s licenses. Two features united all of the measures the new law now limited or ended: they had been originally designed to increase voter participation, and they were disproportionately used by African-American voters. The North Carolina legislature knew that, because it had requested and received data on the use of each of these measures by race before enacting the law. Republican legislative staff asked the state election board, for example, for “a breakdown of the 2008 voter turnout, by race (white and black) and type of vote (early and Election Day),” and for “a breakdown, by race, of those registered voters in your database that do not have a driver’s license number.”

These restrictive laws and practices, all invoked by Republicans, have the purpose and effect of reducing turnout disproportionately among racial minorities and the young, populations that are more likely to vote for Democrats. The Republican Party is evidently worried that the growing numbers of nonwhite citizens in the US are unlikely to vote for their candidates, a concern deepened by the campaign of Donald Trump. Instead of modifying their policies to address the interests of new voters, however, the Republicans have sought to suppress those votes. The strategy, profoundly antidemocratic in the small “d” sense, can swing elections in the short term. But in the long term, it will not only damage American democracy but will be self-defeating for the GOP.

Here’s another link to Cole’s piece, and to more on the GOP’s voter suppression efforts: