GOP leaders: Trump's loss taught us we need to stop more people from voting

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The only thing they think they did wrong was letting people vote.

Republican leaders around the country say they have learned their lesson from Donald Trump's 2020 loss: suppress the vote better next time.

President-elect Joe Biden beat Trump last month by more than 7 million popular votes and by an Electoral College margin of 306 to 232 — a spread Trump called a "landslide" in 2016. This marked the seventh time in the past eight presidential elections that a plurality or majority of Americans have backed the Democratic nominee.

But rather than admit this problem and figure out how to appeal to more voters, GOP leaders are falsely claiming "irregularities" show the election was stolen through "fraud" and instead suggesting that next time, they will just make it harder to vote at all.

Election officials of both parties say there is no evidence of any widespread fraud or irregularities in the 2020 elections.

Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told a Senate committee on Wednesday, "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." He urged Republicans stop pretending otherwise.

Krebs was fired by Trump after issuing a joint statement with elections administrators calling the 2020 election "the most secure in American history," with "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."

But in a Fox News opinion piece earlier this month, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel complained that "voting irregularities" were being ignored "in several states, including my home state of Michigan." But dozens of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign and his allies have provided no evidence of widespread irregularities.

"States and the courts have a duty to ensure the election was conducted properly and that similar irregularities don't arise in future elections," McDaniel said, claiming that "Republicans are protecting our democracy by fighting for the right of all Americans to have elections that are free, fair and secure," ignoring the government's conclusion that the election was secure.

"Protecting the integrity of the ballot box is of utmost importance to our democracy, and it’s why we continue to fight in court to ensure free and fair elections," she tweeted on Thursday, while sharing an anti-vote-by-mail video.

But all of those dozens have lawsuits have been thrown out for failure to provide any evidence for the many GOP claims, like McDaniel's, that voting by mail undermined the integrity of the election. By continuing to make that assertion, however, she and her fellow Republicans are laying the foundation for changes to make it harder for people to vote by mail.

Already, the national party has filed a lawsuit in Georgia aimed at making it harder for citizens to participate in future elections, including two January Senate runoffs, by limiting the availability of drop boxes — even during the pandemic. Meanwhile, on Thursday a federal judge threw out another Republican Party lawsuit to change Georgia's rules for absentee ballots ahead of its runoff.

Republican officials in Georgia have also proposed legislative changes to make it easier to challenge voters' ballots and impossible to vote by mail without a scanner or photocopier.

Some top Republicans have bluntly declared that allowing people to vote by mail makes it too easy for Democrats to participate and must be stopped.

"Mitch McConnell and I need to come up with an oversight of mail-in balloting. If we don't do something about voting by mail, we're gonna lose the ability to elect a Republican in this country," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) candidly told Fox News last month.

Several other state and local GOP chairs have also made similar comments in recent weeks, suggesting the ease of participation is the only reason they lost and that they want to change that going forward.

"It wasn’t a matter of our candidate," said Bill Pozzi, chair of the Republican Party in Victoria County, Texas, told Politico on Thursday. "It was a matter of the process."

"I don’t think there’s a post-mortem about losing the election," said Texas GOP chair Allen West. "The real post-mortem is about how do we protect our electoral system." After the Supreme Court refused his state's lawsuit to have the election results of four other states thrown out, West suggested in a statement that "law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution." West later denied that he was calling for pro-Trump states to secede from the union.

"I think nationally there’s going to be a huge focus on absentee voting and election integrity," North Carolina Republican Party chair Michael Whatley told Politico. “There has to be a significant tightening of the rules around absentee balloting, and we need to have that conversation with state legislatures all around the country.”

Earlier this month, Georgia Republican Party chair David Shafer tweeted, "I too believe the Georgia General Assembly should reform absentee ballot laws, starting with the immediate repudiation of the 'compromise settlement agreement' @GaSecofState negotiated with the Democrats in March. It unlawfully weakened absentee ballot verification."

He was referencing an out-of-court settlement that made it harder to throw out mail-in ballots just because a voter's signature has changed over time — which is common as people age or become disabled.

And Arizona Republican Party chair Kelli Ward proposed shortly after the election that early voting should be eliminated entirely.

"How do we fix election chaos?" she tweeted. "Let me think...... Vote on ONE specific day, Require voter identification, Use paper ballots, Use pens not #Sharpies. Eureka!"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.