GOP keeps trying to crack down on voter fraud — but can't seem to find any

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is the latest Republican to back voter suppression tactics without any proof that voter fraud took place.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday voiced support for a GOP bill making it harder to vote by mail in the Sunshine State, despite being unable to cite any actual problems with absentee ballots in 2020, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

That makes DeSantis the latest Republican governor to push for voter suppression laws without any evidence that voter fraud took place in the 2020 election.

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday similarly backed a voter suppression bill in his state that would make it a crime to send absentee ballots to people who do not explicitly ask for one, despite being unable to cite proof that there was absentee ballot fraud in his state.

And Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds also signed a voter suppression bill into law that cut back on the time voters have to cast ballots, and changed the rules to make absentee ballots due on Election Day rather than needing to be postmarked on that date. She did so even as she praised Iowa for running its elections "well" and as Republican state lawmakers admitted there was no fraud in their state.

DeSantis, for his part, backed a bill on Monday that would ban ballot dropboxes — used by 1.5 million voters in 2020 — as well as eliminate the state's permanent absentee ballot list, according to the Tampa Bay Times report. The bill advanced out of a state Senate committee, teeing it up for passage in the GOP-controlled chamber.

In backing the bill, neither DeSantis nor the bill's sponsor — Republican state Sen. Dennis Baxley — could cite fraud in Florida's 2020 election, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Yet DeSantis and Florida Republicans are engaged in efforts to make it harder to vote by mail in no small part because Donald Trump has railed against the voting method and falsely claimed that voter fraud led to his loss.

The bill was criticized by local election officials and even some conservative former lawmakers, who said the bill will lead to long lines to vote and extra costs to the state over a problem that doesn't exist.

“If they want to vote by mail ballot for the ’22 election, they will then have to go through another more involved process to request a vote-by-mail ballot. Do you really wish to impose on the counties this added expense of $16 million, and alienate 6 million voters who have a request on file?” Lake County Elections Supervisor Alan Hays, a conservative Republican, said at a hearing in which the bill was advanced, according to the Times.

Florida is making it harder to vote by mail even as Trump won the state and Republicans picked up House seats —with the state's robust use of absentee ballots.

Trump himself — now a Florida resident — voted by mail in the 2020 election, and just a week ago requested an absentee ballot to vote in a local municipal election, CNN reported.

The Florida bill is part of a nationwide effort by Republicans to make it harder to vote after Trump's loss, with Republican state lawmakers across the country introducing hundreds of voter suppression bills since the start of the year.

Arizona Republicans are similarly trying to end the state's Permanent Early Voting List, which 3.4 million Arizona voters use to cast absentee ballots.

While Georgia is seeking to end no-excuse absentee voting — which Republicans in the state created in 2005 — and are seeking to cut back on Sunday early voting days. The legislation has been condemned by voting rights advocates as discriminatory against Black voters, who organize "Souls to the Polls" events to take parishioners to vote after church services.

Few Republicans have spoken out against the massive voter suppression effort that voting rights experts compare to the Jim Crow era, when Black people in the United Statess were systematically disenfranchised using racist poll taxes and other tricks that prevented them from casting ballots.

However, Georgia's Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan on Sunday accused his own party of creating "solutions in search of a problem," saying that rather than suppress the vote Republicans should appeal to voters and offer policy solutions.

"Republicans don't need election reform to win, we need leadership," Duncan said Sunday in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press."

"I think there's millions of Republicans waking up around the country that are realizing that Donald Trump's divisive tone and strategy is unwinnable in forward-looking elections. We need real leadership, we need new — new focus, a GOP 2.0 that includes moderates in the middle, to get us to the next election cycle," Duncan added.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.