Commentary, COVID-19

Trump and his allies try to suppress the vote, quash voting by mail

Voters wearing masks wait in line to vote in Milwaukee’s April 7 primary. Only staff five polling sites out of 180 were staffed because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Isiah Holmes/ Wisconsin Examiner)

It hasn’t been hard to quickly sniff out a rat in the latest efforts of President Trump and his allies to stop efforts to move toward voting by mail in upcoming 2020 elections.

As Paul Waldman put it in the Washington Post today:

President Trump’s reelection is in danger, but he has found a ray of hope: If the voting in November can be as difficult and chaotic as possible, he just might pull out a victory.

All he has to do is stop states from allowing everyone to vote by mail.

So on Twitter and in his daily campaign appearances disguised as coronavirus briefings, Trump has begun an effort to convince everyone — or at least Republicans — that any election conducted mostly with mail ballots would be inherently illegitimate and must not be allowed.

Trump’s latest perfidy, of course, comes in the same week that his allies did whatever it took to push forward with a primary election in Wisconsin that would limit widespread participation. As Reid Epstein explained in The New York Times:

Tuesday’s mess of an election in Wisconsin is the culmination of a decade of efforts by state Republicans to make voting harder, redraw legislative boundaries and dilute the power of voters in the state’s urban centers.

The Republican-dominated state legislature, which has held a majority since 2011, due in part to gerrymandered maps, refused to entertain the Democratic governor’s request to mail absentee ballots to all voters or move the primary. Then the State Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservative justices, overturned the governor’s ruling to postpone the election until June.

GOP objections to mail-in voting are obviously driven by partisan concerns, but as the astute Jay Bookman pointed out in the Georgia Recorder, there really isn’t any viable alternative if the coronavirus pandemic sticks around and continues to come at us in waves:

But again, what’s the alternative?

Without an aggressive push to get Georgians to vote by mail this fall, without ramping up the infrastructure we need to handle that surge, we could find ourselves in a situation much worse than that in Wisconsin this week. With the coronavirus predicted to return, with record turnout expected, with poll workers rightfully fearful of exposing themselves to contact with hundreds of voters, with voting reduced to a handful of polling sites, it would be impossible to conduct a free and fair election.

Of course, such concerns would be strongest in high-density urban areas, where lines are often hours-long even under normal circumstances and where coronavirus has been more deadly. I would hate to think that Georgia Republicans would block increased use of voting by mail for cynical political reasons, that they would use fear of coronavirus in the same way that Bull Connor and others used police dogs and water hoses, to discourage turnout of those most likely to vote against them.

I really would hate to think that.

An one would really hate to think that North Carolina conservatives would do something like that as well. Fingers crossed.

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