Mainly at the state level the Republican Party has been engaged in voter suppression for decades. Of late they have moved into voter intimidation. Ironically they learned both from, among other sources, the Democrats of the Jim Crow era. Now they are unveiling their final tactic – voter nullification. The scariest part is that the general public seems to be completely unaware of that.
Every state under Republican control has either passed legislation designed to suppress the vote under the guise of voter integrity or is in the process of doing so. At the national level they are receiving assistance from the Senate Republican caucus whose leader, Moscow Mitch McConnell, has pledged that no Republican will vote for pending voter protection legislation.
Speaking of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, they pressured Apple and Google into suddenly vanishing a voter aide app on the eve of the Russian elections. That was far from Putin’s only anti-democracy measure but the fact that two major global corporations allowed themselves to be intimidated by the dictator who runs a country with an economy about the size of Italy’s is disturbing! If you look at history the control of information is always a priority in a fascist regime. I offer several 1930’s European dictators, Donald Trump and Putin as examples.
Along with many others, I have written many times of the voter suppression tactics employed by today’s Republican Party. They are more openly and vigorously moving into voter intimidation. “Poll observers” will be more prevalent and allowed much more mobility within election facilities; in some cases being allowed to follow and record people casting their ballots.
I want to relay two personal stories in relation to voter intimidation in recent times. In 2000 I lived in Pinellas County Florida. In my precinct, which was predominantly white, everything was fine. In many predominantly Black precincts a Sherriff’s and/or State Trooper car was stationed outside the polling place. The Sherriff was a Republican and as was the Governor, Jeb Bush, whose brother just happened to be the Republican nominee. You connect those dots.
In 2012 when I was working for the Obama campaign and trying to increase voter turnout in some North Carolina counties with sizable Black populations I met with several leaders in the Black community who told me of the belief in the Black community that there would be retribution for voting. This was based on historical events.
While suppression and intimidation present huge obstacles they can to a great degree be “organized around”. I didn’t say it was fair, correct or easy; but it is not insurmountable. The most insidious obstacle – one that cannot be “organized around” – is voter nullification. In many red states the groundwork has been laid or is being laid for a Republican controlled body or bodies to simply nullify the vote of the people and effectively change the result well after the fact.
Compared to many other democracies America’s voter turnout rate is very low. One of the most common reasons people often give for not voting is that they feel that their vote really doesn’t count. If you undermine the trust in democracy and elections that will be the finally nail in democracy’s coffin which is exactly Putin’s goal.
Much attention is being given to voter suppression. Less to voter intimidation, (in my opinion mainly because it will largely not effect most white voters). Tragically almost none is being paid to the most insidious threat – voter nullification. This cannot be stopped at the state level in red states in the immediate future. The only way to stop it in time for the 2022 and 2024 elections is with federal legislation which the Republicans will oppose. Are you listening Democratic Senators? To wait longer will probably be too late.
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