America saw record voter turnout in 2020, and now the Republican Party is working overtime to ensure that never happens again. The GOP is cashing in on their decades long disinformation campaign of false claims of ballot harvesting and election fraud to justify the need for tighter voting restrictions.
According to the Brennan Center, Republican lawmakers in 45 states have proposed at least 253 new laws to make voting harder. The proposed bills take aim at mail-in voting, seek to remove automatic and election day-voter registration, limit early voting, and in some cases remove weekend voting. Some of these proposals will have a disproportionate effect on minority voters.
In Georgia, for example, Black voters make up one-third of the state’s population and overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Long wait times to vote has led to vote suppression, as some voters in minority communities were forced to wait for up to 10 hours to cast a ballot. Now, Republicans in the Georgia state legislature are taking voter suppression a step further and trying to remove Sundays from early voting. This would eliminate “Souls to the Polls,” a mobilization effort to get Black voters to cast their ballots after church on Sundays.
A majority of these vote-restricting bills have been filed in key battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, where Republicans saw red states flip blue in the 2020 presidential election, making Donald Trump a one-term president. In the wake of that defeat, Trump spent the following months using his platform to lie about election fraud and enlisted allies and supporters to join him in his disinformation campaign.
That willful lie is now the foundation of the GOP’s anti-voting rallying cry. A portion of the GOP continues to carry the torch of baseless election fraud claims. These claims are a false pretense to justify attempts to prohibit and discourage votes from Americans whose support they are unwilling to compete for.
While the Republican party works hard to suppress voter turnout, Democrats have introduced 704 new bills to expand access to the polls. The battle for voting rights has been a hot button topic between parties, but since losing the White House, the Senate, and control of the House, Republicans have become emboldened and resorting to more and more draconian and illiberal policies aimed at restricting voting in order to regain power.
Voting is one of the fundamental rights afforded to American citizens, and to disparage voters from having their voice heard is the antithesis of American democracy. In order to protect American voters, Congress must pass key legislation such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. These bills would strengthen our democracy by increasing voter access and voter participation in elections, end partisan and racial gerrymandering, and prevent discriminatory voting laws from being enacted.
The fragility of democracy has become increasingly apparent in the wake of the domestic terror attack on the U.S. Capitol and the GOP’s assault on voting. It is time to protect our institutions by ensuring access to voting remains available to every American citizen.