Republicans determined to make it harder to vote after Trump loss


Georgia's secretary of state has already proposed new rules that would make it harder for people to cast a ballot.

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, proposed new rules on Friday that would make it harder to vote, including requiring identification to vote by mail, and making it easier to challenge ballots of voters based on a nebulous suspicion that a voter doesn't live at the address they claim to.

Raffensperger made the announcement while certifying Georgia's Nov. 3 election results, which showed President-elect Joe Biden carried the state by more than 12,000 votes. He said that the election was not marred by fraud and that "numbers don't lie."

"I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct," he added.

Still, Raffensberger proposed new voting rules that would raise the barrier to casting ballots, based on the lies spread by members of his own party that the 2020 election was rife with mail-in ballot fraud.

Among the proposed rules was a "controversial" signature match system, which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) brought up in a phone call with Raffensperger shortly after the election. According to the secretary of state, Graham asked Raffensperger in that call to toss out legally cast ballots to help Trump win the state.

Graham has denied that accusation, claiming he simply asked Raffensperger about the "integrity" of mail-in voting, according to the Washington Post.

"Raffensperger is saying two things: We’re confident in the system. We need to change the system. I’m not sure how that squares," NBC News reporter Charlie Gile tweeted on Friday, after the secretary of state's announcement.

Ultimately, Raffensperger's comments give credence voting rights advocates' fears following the baseless voter fraud lies pushed by Donald Trump and the GOP: that Republicans would use these baseless allegations of fraud to pass draconian laws that disenfranchise voters.

Of course, there was nothing wrong with the way the elections were conducted in 2020.

Chris Krebs, the now-former head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a statement last week that the 2020 election was "the most secure in American history." Trump fired Krebs on Tuesday for that factual statement, as it did not back up Trump's false claims of election victory.

Further, educating voters about how to properly cast mail-in ballots in fact led to fewer ballot rejections this year.

Yet even Republicans like Raffensberger, who actually fought back against his party's efforts to throw out legally cast ballots, are now advocating for making it harder to vote.

Republicans have a pattern of trying to disenfranchise voters with ID laws based on myths about widespread fraud — laws that often target minority voters who support Democrats — with the recent election spurring them on.

In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves recently pledged to "do everything in my power to make sure universal mail-in voting and no-excuse early voting are not allowed" in his state, citing the Nov. 3 election and the need to finish counting "legal" ballots.

Trump himself has pushed the idea that only "legal" ballots should be counted, suggesting any that were cast by mail were somehow fraudulent.

"I will do everything in my power to ensure every ballot legally cast in the 2020 election in Mississippi gets counted—no matter how long it takes," Reeves tweeted on Nov. 5. "But based on what I see in other states today, I will also do everything in my power to make sure universal mail-in voting and no-excuse early voting are not allowed in MS—not while I’m governor! Too much chaos. Only way it’d happen is if many GOP legislators override a veto!"

Shortly after winning reelection against Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham launched similar attacks on mail-in voting, suggesting that Republicans should get rid of the voting option, which led to record high turnout in many states, to ensure they win future elections.

"If we don't do something about voting by mail, we're gonna lose the ability to elect a Republican in this country," he said.

And in Georgia, Republicans state legislators are already working to undermine the absentee and mail-in voting processes, with state representative and House Judiciary Chair Barry Fleming writing in a racist Nov. 15 op-ed for the Augusta Chronicle, "If elections were like coastal cities, absentee balloting would be the shady part of town down near the docks you do not want to wander into because the chance of being shanghaied is significant. Expect the Georgia Legislature to address that in our next session in January."

Since 2010, 24 states have passed laws restricting voting, according to an NPR review.

Georgia is among them, having passed a law that would purge voters from the rolls if they hadn't voted in a certain time period — a law that has led to hundreds of thousand of voters to be wrongly removed.

"As historians and election experts have catalogued, there is a long history in this country of racially suppressive voting measures — including poll taxes and all-white primaries — put in place under the guise of stopping voter fraud that wasn’t actually occurring in the first place," the Brennan Center for Justice wrote in 2017, explaining that voter fraud myths are often used to suppress the right to vote.

"The surest way toward voting that is truly free, fair, and accessible," it added, "is to know the facts in the face of such rhetoric."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.