Democrats and Republicans have been fighting over voting rights for years. Democrats keep trying to make it easier for people to vote — by expanding voting hours, allowing same-day registration, permitting early voting and vote-by-mail, reducing identification requirements and more — while Republicans have been making it harder to vote, mindful that a higher turnout might mean defeat for the GOP. Consequently, they raise the false specter of potential fraud every time a proposal to make the right to vote easier to exercise is proposed. Since voter fraud has been virtually non-existent, this Republican canard is on a par with all their others: trickle-down economics that benefit everyone; tax cuts that raise vast new revenues, etc.
The coronavirus crisis is taking this fight to another level.
What happened in Wisconsin makes clear that Republicans will stop at nothing to retain power. That state’s Republican legislature refused to postpone the primary to June, a decision upheld by Wisconsin’s Republican Supreme Court. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to extend the deadline for mailing in absentee ballots, its 5-4 Republican majority seeing no reason why voters shouldn’t go to the polls and vote in person despite the state’s lockdown stay-at-home order and the risk to voter health.
President Trump jumped on the bandwagon, spouting the absentee voting fraud myth despite the fact that he has voted absentee by mail in every election since he defiled the White House. The only known fraud associated with absentee voting in recent years was “ballot harvesting” perpetrated by Republicans in North Carolina in 2018, a tainted election that was overturned by the courts. Other than that, instances of absentee voting fraud are infinitesimal. In fact, five states, including staunchly Republican Utah, conduct all of their elections using mail-in ballots. They report only a handful of cases of possible fraud out of millions of votes cast. Trump’s own commission charged with investigating election fraud disbanded when it could not find any wrongdoing.
So here we are, on the cusp of the most important presidential election in American history. Republicans believe they would lose a mail-in ballot election. President Trump has said that, if mail-in voting were allowed, no Republican would ever be elected again. In their desperation, they are solidly lined up against any attempt to put in place a system whereby Americans could vote without risking their lives. Senate Majority Leader McConnell refuses to consider any alternative to showing up at the polls notwithstanding the coronavirus danger. And the veil surrounding the aura of the Supreme Court has now been pierced. Its GOP majority shows itself willing to go to any lengths to make sure Republicans are advantaged come November. If you read between the lines of its disgraceful decision in the Wisconsin case, it implies: “We don’t care if voters die by virtue of exercising their right to vote. And if they don’t want to risk their lives, that’s good for Republicans.”
I don’t want to hear any more about Chief Justice John Roberts being a swing vote on the Court. He and his Republican court colleagues appear prepared to do whatever it takes to keep Trump in office, including jeopardizing voters’ lives.
Roberts has been on a mission to ensure Republican hegemony for years. In the infamous Citizens United case, he and his majority colleagues decimated the campaign finance laws in order to tilt the playing field toward Republicans (who always have more money). In 2013, in Shelby County v. Holder, Roberts stripped the Voting Rights Act of its preclearance mandate, thus allowing Jim Crow to return and deny African-Americans, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat, their voting rights. Last year, in Rucho v. Common Cause, he refused to involve the court in gerrymandering cases even when it was demonstrated that racism was a factor in how Republican legislatures drew district lines. All three cases, as with the Wisconsin case, were 5-4 decisions along ideological lines. So much for his dishonest claim that “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.” Too bad he exempted his own Court from his statement.
It is a given that Trump and McConnell will do whatever they can to steal the November election. It is shocking that they have such a firm ally in John Roberts.
April 10, 2020