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Beware: Republicans Want to Cancel Your Vote

Bill Press, Tribune Content Agency on

Republicans are desperate. Their chances of winning keep getting slimmer and slimmer. They haven’t won the popular vote for president in 33 years. In 2020, even with the Orange Man at the top of the ticket, they lost the House, the Senate, and the White House.

Republicans are in a panic. So what’s their plan for bouncing back in 2022 and 2024? Improve their message? Expand their base? Get better candidates? Convince more people to vote for them? Not at all. In fact, just the opposite. Instead of convincing more people to vote for them, they’re trying to make it impossible for millions of Americans to vote at all.

Under the false flag of “election reform,” Republicans are waging the greatest threat to democracy in our lifetime. So far in 2021, according to the renown Brennan Center for Justice, egged on by Donald Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud, Republican legislators have introduced over 250 voter-suppression bills in 43 states: measures especially directed at majority Black cities and areas with high percentages of voters of color.

This is no hidden war on democracy. It’s on full display. In Iowa, the legislature approved a bill to cut the number of early-voting days, close polls earlier on Election Day, and reject any absentee ballots received after Election Day, even if postmarked before.

In Georgia, long the epicenter of voter suppression, legislators this week voted to end automatic voter registration, ban drop boxes for mail ballots, eliminate widespread absentee voting, and severely restrict voting on weekends – in effect, ending the popular tradition of “Souls to the Polls” organized by Black churches. Last November, Georgia legislators also introduced a bill allowing county election officials to disenfranchise anyone who did not own a car registered in the state – what investigative reporter Greg Palast dubbed “no car, no vote” – the worst poll tax since the Jim Crow era.

In Arizona, legislation is pending to curtail voter registration drives, end universal absentee voting, limit early voting, and require that all absentee ballots be received by Election Day. Two other measures, already approved by Arizona’s Republican-controlled Legislature, – to invalidate ballots cast at the wrong precinct and ban anyone from collecting ballots from disabled voters for delivery to polling places – were before the U.S. Supreme Court this week.

The list goes on and on, in almost every state. And make no mistake what it’s all about. It’s a deliberate, diabolical, nationally organized, un-American campaign by the Republican Party to suppress the vote, especially among Black, Latino, and college student voters. Why? Because, having lost so often, Republicans believe they can’t win on a level playing field. They can only win if fewer people vote.

It’s an absurd, self-defeating theory first expressed by an ignorant Donald Trump, who warned Republicans in March 2020 not to expand vote-by-mail operations because: “If you ever agree to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” And echoed by a lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party before the Supreme Court this week. When Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked why they wanted to change Arizona’s existing voting rules, he admitted: “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”

 

How pathetic. The idea that greater voter turn-out makes it harder for Republicans to win is pure baloney. When either Republicans or Democrats lose an election, it’s not because more people voted, it’s because their candidate or message didn’t resonate with the people.

It’s ironic that while Republicans whine about “cancel culture,” they’re engaged in the worst form of cancel culture: trying to cancel your vote. And they must not be allowed to get away with it. Fortunately, there is an answer: H.R. 1, passed by the House this week, which would set national election standards by requiring all states to provide online, automatic, and same-day registration; provide at least 15 days of early voting; provide every voter with no-excuse absentee ballots; and make drop boxes available to return those ballots.

It’ll be tough, but not impossible to get H.R. 1 through the Senate. There’s no way Democrats can get 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. The only way forward, as Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley has proposed, is to kill the filibuster for one purpose only: voting rights legislation – H.R. 1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, soon to follow.

After all, that’s one thing Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on: the more people who vote, the better for America. It’s called democracy.

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(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” His email address is: bill@billpress.com. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)

©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

 

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