You’d think Republican legislators would be pleased with the way the voting process worked in North Carolina last fall. Despite the pandemic, the combination of improved early voting and voting by mail options led to a record turnout and virtually zero credible complaints of fraud or malfeasance.
To top things off, Republican candidates did great – sweeping a host of statewide races.
Unfortunately, as editorials from several major news outlets noted this weekend, when it comes to lawmaking these days, GOP legislators — both in Raleigh and across the nation — tend to base their actions more on the marching orders handed down from the Trump machine and Fox News talking heads than real world facts.
In Georgia, things are so absurd that a new law bans giving water to people waiting in line to vote. This is from an editorial in the Washington Post:
In the grand scheme of voter-suppression measures that Republicans have proposed, limiting water distribution is not the most pernicious. But it is emblematic of a party committed to devising new hardships to impose on voters, and all based on lies about voter fraud, to keep hold of political power.
And so it is that despite the remarkable success North Carolina enjoyed in strengthening its democracy by making it easier for voters to cast their ballots, Republicans in the state Senate have launched their own disingenuous effort to mimic voter suppression efforts from around the country with a bill that would make it much harder to vote by mail.
As the lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer rightfully put it in response to last week’s absurd Senate inquisition in which GOP lawmakers accused State Board of Elections executive director Karen Brinson Bell of all manner of malfeasance in agreeing to a lawsuit settlement that made it easier for voters to cope with the pandemic:
Brinson Bell, of course, answers to the State Board of Elections, which approved the settlement 5-0, a vote that included its two Republican members. Some Republicans think the director should have defied her board. Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, gravely told Brinson Bell, “In my heart, you broke the law.”
No, she didn’t. What she did was oversee a fair election that set a record turnout under the difficult circumstances of a pandemic. And it was an election in which Republicans did well. They should be applauding Brinson Bell, not accusing her. But when it comes to elections these days, Republicans would rather stir suspicion than acknowledge the truth.
Meanwhile, a weekend editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal put it this way:
The new restrictions sweeping through red states are not in response to voter fraud, but to voter turnout. Republican authorities come closer every day to “saying the quiet part out loud”: that they’re willing to suppress voting because they think that will work to their advantage.
They also seem to consider lies and conspiracy theories to be legitimate election strategies.
These strategies may ultimately backfire, increasing support for HR 1, the Democratic voting rights bill that passed the U.S. House and is headed for the Senate. Passing that bill, at this point, would be more than justified. It’s voter defense.
The bottom line: it’s an embarrassing charade that the GOP is pursuing — one that once again elevates ideology over common sense and harms voters of all political parties. Let’s hope Americans figure out who the real purveyors of election fraud are and push Congress to pass HR 1 and S1 ASAP.