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Do Something

Marc Elias, the great attorney who heads “Democracy Docket,” which was successful in blocking or overturning several suppressive voting laws passed by Republicans before the last election, today wrote an article entitled, “Republican Legislation Would Remove Eligible Voters From the Rolls.”


Quoting a report from Bloomberg News, Elias states that “Republican proposals to purge voters from the rolls could disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters across the country.” He notes that, “Mistakes are common with these kinds of purges. (supposedly based on official state records). In Arkansas, 7,000 voters were incorrectly listed as felons in 2016, and Texas driver license data incorrectly marked 25,000 people as non-citizens in 2019. Wisconsin mistakenly marked 46,000 voters as having moved addresses in 2017.” Interestingly, all three of those states had Republican governors and legislatures at the time of these “mistakes.”

There is more related news, of course. Arkansas just passed a bill that would, among other things, disqualify any mailed in ballot not received four days before the date of the election. Florida just passed a draconian bill that will mirror Georgia. Iowa is in that process, as well.

To quote David Byrne again, “This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.” The Republicans in this country are trying to guarantee that they will win every election. They are not content with “just” making it harder to vote, by limiting or closing drop boxes, putting restrictions on absentee ballots, instituting various signature certifications and checks, limiting voting hours, refusing to allow someone to bring water to a voter stuck in line for ten hours because they limited the amount of polling places.

That may somehow not be enough, so like true criminals, they are going to fix it even further, by throwing thousands of Democrats off the voting rolls. They did that in 2016, with Kris Kobach’s “Cross Check” disqualifying what some have estimated as 200,000 voters, ” because someone in another state had the same name. That by itself cost Hillary the election, because it was largely concentrated in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. So they want to repeat that now.

One does not have to be an advanced statistician or demographic expert to realize that these laws and purges will throw a bunch of states into the Republican column. They don’t need many as it is. The electoral results in an election won by 8 million popular votes by Biden, were frighteningly close. These new actions are intended to flip all of that. And of course we have the Congressional and Senate races in 2022, where Democrats are only four House losses, and one Senate net loss, away from losing control of either body.

And don’t forget what may amount to a built-in net House loss of three seats due to the deliberately shortened census counting and the fact that Republican-controlled state legislatures will gerrymander those districts in their favor.That is the goal. They are stealing our democracy right before our eyes.

And what is to be done about it? I wrote about the imperative need to get H.R..1 passed by the Senate, as it has already passed the House, but how the unwillingness of Manchin and Sinema to vote to get rid of the filibuster rule would prevent it.

We can be certain that Elias will file many lawsuits to try to protect the democratic right to vote, but we know that the Supreme Court is stacked with voting rights suppressors. Depending on the courts would seem very optimistic, if not decidedly foolish. The majority of the Supreme Court is so partisan, that they might wait until a couple of months before the election to render their decision, so as to ruin Democratic chances to hold the Congressional majority, by doing something proactive.

What else can we do? The DOJ could sue various states. But the Supreme Court would rule on those cases, and we would lose most or all of them. The federal government can’t send troops like they did to enforce Brown v. Board of Education (decided in 1954 when we had a worthwhile Supreme Court), in the early ’60’s, because they would have no federal authority to do that.

Massive boycotts of companies in the many states which are gleefully and vengefully passing voting suppression laws and purges? That could help, but the very fact that there are so many states doing this, makes it harder to do, because there are so many companies which do business in them, to be able to target. And would enough people participate in these, to make a major difference? In Georgia, a few companies there spoke up, but seem to have let it go, and apparently just wanted to look good, not to actually try to make Georgia rescind their law. This kind of thing is the “paper gain” which we have fallen for many times in the past, and which ultimately gets us nowhere.

I am fairly confident that President Biden is well aware of all these suppressive and historically unconstitutional laws. He has spoken about them generally. But that doesn’t remove them, and it certainly hasn’t stopped the states from going right ahead with them. They are confident that the Supreme Court will allow them to stand; or that even if somehow one or two provisions are thrown out, most of them will be in effect.

They might even violate any ruling by the Supreme Court that disqualified any of them, by just ignoring it, and doing right ahead and purging voters and closing polling places. In the case of Georgia, where the supporters of their bill point to something which says that polling places which cause a three-hour or more waiting time must have additional places, I expect that it is a lie, that they will do nothing, or say , after they have won the election, “Yes, we must fix that next time,” and then do nothing, or even make it worse. They are utterly dishonorable people, they do not have the slightest interest in any voting rules changes, except those that will insure that their side always wins.

Possibly, making this a Civil Rights issue, could have some effect. Clearly, in many of these states, the intent is aimed at minority voters. Cases could be brought citing the 14th, 15th, and 24th Amendments. Another possibility would involve a major boycott by Black athletes, college or professional, in the suppressive states. But they have careers to think of, and it is unlikely that they would risk those to make that statement. I will say, that if you take away the chance to have winning teams in those locales, this would hit them very hard.

Biden has some very able people working in this Administration. Surely we can think that some of them are going to try to do something about it, before it is too late. Because it will be too late before too long. The 2022 elections are not that far away. Republicans are hammering the nails into the box where the democracy will be buried. Waiting to see what will happen, is not feasible; what will happen is too predictable, like rolling loaded dice. Something must be done now.

Lauren Groh-Wargo, who is CEO of national voting rights organization Fair Fight Action, and who was campaign manager for Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial campaign in 2018, has said that Georgians are prepared to come out and vote as never before. She has been pretty optimistic about this, which is heartening. But it doesn’t take more than a few thousand votes subtracted from the presidential and senate runoff totals there to throw them to the Republicans.

Is it possible for immense organizing to bring out enough previous non-voters to make the difference? Can there be enough education of voters, getting them the proper IDs, making sure their absentee ballots are filled out in the requisite way, to stymie the Republicans? I am not too confident about that. Republicans will also try to intimidate voters, and throw out their ballots on any pretext, if they are in Democratic and/or minority areas. They will tell them that they can cast a provisional ballot, most of which are summarily thrown out by Republican officials after the day of the election, something which likely happened in 2016. They have many ways and techniques, just like gangsters have many ways to steal money from people and intimidate them into doing what they want. They both use the same playbook, except for the fancy suits and haircuts

We all know that something must be done to protect the gains which we made in the last election, gains which Republicans have vowed will not only be reversed, but kept so for many decades to come. I would very much like to see some evidence that we have some viable plans in place to stop that, rather than, as was the case during the Obama administration, just making impassioned speeches about voting rights, and then shaking our heads sadly or even shaking our fists in anger, when we lose. We might not get another chance to win again if we do, so we have to make this one count.

14 Responses

  1. There are more of us than there are of them, and that gap grows every day.

    If they do manage to make their peaceful removal from power impossible, they will only make their violent removal from power inevitable.

    But as Saruman said to Frodo, that will not be my doing. I merely foretell.

    • Yes, I do not believe that a minority, however ruthless, can control a majority, in a country which has been a democracy. Of course, Orwell imagined how they would do it. Bu I do have hope in numbers, and people who will simply not accept totalitarianism. In the Doors song “Five to One,,” Jim Morrison wrote,”They’ve got the guns,,but we’ve got the numbers.” (However, in a biography I read, Ray Manzarek did want to point out to the writer that “number” was also a term for a marijuana cigarette).

      • Well, it looks like TurdPress still won’t let me link anything on one of William’s comment threads, so I am compelled to go to RD’s last post and put this on THAT comment thread.

        It’s Asimov’s review of 1984, explaining why that specific form of tyranny would not work in the real world.

        • IBW, I just read about 90% of Isaac Asimov’s essay, just skimming a couple of parts. His insights as to how much Orwell’s book was anti-Stalinist, are very informative. I don’t know that Asimov, even with his very high intelligence and prescience, realized how the computer world, the internet, could so dangerously spread lies and fake news which hundreds of millions of people could be affected by. The rise of totalitarianism in so many countries. is due to that, as well as the fear of Third World countries.

          I wonder if Asimov could have conceived that even with a Democratic President in office, Republicans would be busily trying to suppress the vote. And that there would be three news networks which would suffocate people with propaganda and lies all day. And that the Supreme Court might be the worst in our history, with little chance to reverse that, without expanding the Court. I have never seen anything like this here, and I doubt that more than a few of us would have foreseen it, even with Reagan and the trickle down people running the economy when he Asimov wrote this essay.. So I would love to ask him what he would think about it now. It is not all bleak, there are many people and voices fighting against it. But Republicans have packed the Court. they are engaging in an all-out fight against voting rights, and there are about 200 million guns out there, mostly in the hands of their zealots. Would Asimov have imagined the January 6 effort to overthrow the government? The task is a daunting one, though certainly not unachievable, if we act in a necessary and unified fashion.

          • The enemy shows remarkable cleverness, even brilliance, in their rearguard actions against the inevitable–but, they are rearguard actions against the inevitable.

            Demographics marches on.

            Unfortunately, even if the domestic enemy fails and succumbs quickly, Putin has won a great deal of time and space to save his regime.

            In retrospect, this country is lucky that the political classes of the British Empire decided against aiding the Confederacy. If a British version of Putin had been the British Prime Minister in 1861…

          • Well, shozbot. I didn’t mean to bold all of the words I bolded. 😛

  2. William, I find it incredibly depressing that you have to write about this, when it is so blatantly unconstitutional you would think that our highest court would fulfill their oaths to protect the constitution, and would do something to fix it. My fear is that John Roberts and his merry band of GOP Vote Suppressors will do something to ‘fix’ it.

    • jmac, I ineed do not enjoy writing about it, it is very depressing. But it is something we have to deal with now, rather than let it play out. My great hope is that Biden and his team are well aware of how dangerous this is, and do have some multifold plan. But yes, with all the other bad ideas the Supreme Court majority has, they seem to have just about all been chosen with regard to their history of of suppressing voting rights. Roberts and Kavanaugh, like Rehnquist before him, moved up in the ranks in that fashion.

      Perhaps the biggest difference between the Roberts Court and the Warren Court, is that the latter would have made sure that the right to vote was protected. The Roberts Court makes sure to leave it all to the states, as the segregationists always wanted. And something that also upsets me, is that our side doesn’t do it. In California, where there are the most Congress members, they let a nonpartisan commission draw the districts. Meanwhile, every single Republican run state lets their legislature draw them, which of course costs us 10-20 House seats every cycle. I wish that CA would do that, just for self-protection of Democrats. Maybe then Roberts would step in. You have to fight fire with fire, it is said. Playing fair against totalitarians does not avail.

      • Meanwhile, every single Republican run state lets their legislature draw them, which of course costs us 10-20 House seats every cycle. I wish that CA would do that, just for self-protection of Democrats.

        EXACTLY… it’s time to take ‘leading by example’ and put it in its rightful place next to ‘bipartisanship’. Sadly today’s GOP is the party of ‘our way or the highway’

  3. Slightly off topic:

    Once one discards the right-wing fantasy that the chattering classes are honeycombed with liberals and socialists, Both-Siderism becomes easy to explain.

    The chattering classes are protecting their narrow class interests, by using whatever influence over voters that the chatterers possess, to persuade voters to keep actual liberals and socialists out of office, in order to avoid rises in the taxes levied upon the chattering classes, as well as upon other at-least-affluent people.

    Occam’s Razor and all that.

  4. I think this is a case for RICO. It is a concerted conspiracy to undermine the US Constitution and destroy the electoral process and take over the US Government. It is so clear that all the GOP controlled states have almost simultaneously enacted these laws. Organized crime is their MO. They are stealing our votes. That is why the GOP had to use the continual “Stop the Steal” rallying cry so as to obscure their aim, stealing our votes. That inoculation with that term makes being charged with that crime less likely. It is typical of their MO. The Justice Dept must open this investigation. It should be run in concert with The January 6th terrorist attack current investigation. This is all part and parcel of same conspiracy!

    • I agree, it was concerted, and probably planned even before the election, which did have Biden substantially ahead in the polls. Either win, or if you lose, say that it was stolen. That was why so many Republican state legislatures did not allow the early mail-in votes to be counted first; they wanted the “red mirage” of having Trump lead, and then if he fell behind, they would say it was stolen. There are so many instances where the Republicans all come out with the same phrase or accusation, that one has to believe that there is a whole network which sends out the talking points and strategies.

      • If so, I suspect that network, or at least part of it, used to be known by the initials K, G, and B. 😡

        • You know, it had not occurred to me, and it would seem very possible. Who else would have the ability to organize this wide and almost instant reaction,with everyone repeating the same talking points? They used to talk about blast faxes sent out by Karl Rove to Fox, and then widely disseminated. But indeed you may have hit on what is going on.

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