The dismantling of the US Postal Service by Trump’s campaign donor and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has garnered deserved attention from the media and a large cross-section of Americans. Certainly, the impact on mail-in and absentee voting by slowing down the mail will disenfranchise tens of thousands of American voters. But we must keep in mind that it’s not the only GOP attempts to prevent large segments of Americans, especially black and Native Americans, from voting.
Over the past five decades, Republicans have instituted extreme gerrymandering in the states where they control the governorship and legislature. For example, Austin, Texas is the state capital and the state’s 11th largest city. It is also a bastion of liberalism. Yet the state has been so gerrymandered its residents have no representation in the state’s legislature or the US Congress.
Other states like North Carolina and Wisconsin have also resorted to such extreme gerrymandering to guarantee that Democrats cannot easily obtain majorities in their legislatures. And they have taken matters a step further. When the two states elected Democratic governors, the Republican majority legislatures and the lame-duck Republican governors signed into law measures that would take away much of the new governors’ powers.
There is more.
Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed laws to require voter IDs. Then they made it difficult for the poor to obtain the IDs by specifying they could only be obtained at certain DMV locations. Those locations are often located far away. And they have limited hours which forces the poor to take time off from work to obtain them.
Moreover, Republicans have closed many polling places in Democratic-leaning districts, reduced early voting periods, and limited voting hours forcing voters to stand in line for hours. They have purged tens of thousands of voters from registration lists for not voting in the past two general elections. They have passed laws to prevent college students from voting in the districts where their colleges are located forcing them to drive or fly back to the districts where their parents live in order to vote. And they have passed laws that make it illegal for felons to vote, even after they have served their sentences and paid their debt to society. And when a voter referendum restoring felons’ voting rights passed in Florida, the Republican legislature passed a law requiring the felons to pay court and legal costs for their trials. The same state famously prevented thousands of registered voters from voting in the 2000 elections because they had the same, or similar, names as felons.
Many Republican-controlled states adopted untested and unreliable electronic voting machines, some of which can be easily hacked. As a result, many voters have reported that the machines actually changed their votes when they pressed the button to record their votes. And because many of the machines have no paper trail, the voter theft is impossible to uncover. Many believe the 2004 presidential election was stolen from Senator John Kerry when Diebold voting machines recorded votes for Kerry as votes for George W. Bush.
And, despite Trump’s statements that absentee ballots are safer than other mail-in ballots, there is little evidence of voter fraud involving votes by mail. Indeed, the only examples involve Republicans. A GOP operative in North Carolina was charged following the 2018 election. And an investigation by an independent consortium into the 2000 Florida presidential election uncovered hundreds of absentee ballots counted for Bush – enough to sway the election results – that sported the same signature.
As if all of this isn’t enough, the Trump campaign solicited and embraced election interference from Russia during the run-up to the 2016 election. If you doubt that, I refer you to Section One of the Mueller Report. Though Trump’s Attorney General characterized the report as an exoneration, the campaign’s blatant cooperation with Russia was clearly documented by the Mueller investigation. That didn’t seem to matter to Republican senators. Even when Trump was impeached for his illegal attempt to coerce Ukraine into providing election help in exchange for US foreign aid, they refused to remove him from office saying they believed Trump had learned his lesson. Yet, afterward, far from being cowed by his impeachment, Trump openly solicited election help from Russia, Ukraine and China during the 2020 campaign.
In an effort to intimidate voters, particularly in minority areas, the GOP has recruited up to 50,000 “poll watchers” for election day. So when you arrive at the polls, you will likely be greeted by armed members of rightwing militias and the “alt-right” who may be spoiling for a confrontation. And, of course, we can’t forget that the GOP called upon the conservative majority Supreme Court to undermine the Voting Rights Act of 1964 allowing the most racist states to, once again, engage in a variety of tactics to prevent people of color from voting.
Given all of this, one has to ask: Do Republicans believe in democracy? Obviously, the answer is a resounding “No!” It’s clear that we now have less to fear from foreign rivals than we do from one of our two largest political parties.