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Trump And Voting: From Bad To Worse
Trump And Voting: From Bad To Worse
Voter fraud is a lie that will be used as an excuse for even more voter suppression.
02/15/2017 01:53 pm ET
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What could be worse than the U.S. president spreading lies and conspiracy theories about voting fraud to make himself feel better about losing the popular vote by millions? Unfortunately, thats no longer a rhetorical question. After repeating the groundless claim that millions of people illegally voted for Hillary Clinton, Trump recently announced that his administration will launch an investigation designed to generate the evidence to support his belief. And this week White House policy adviser Stephen Miller made the rounds on Sunday talk shows spouting repeatedly debunked claims about massive voter fraud.
When pressed about the utter lack of proof for the White Houses assertions, Miller conveniently responded that this morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence but that everybody knows it.
At best, such an investigation by Team Trump will be a distraction from the real voting scandal of 2016: laws designed by Republicans to make it harder for targeted groups of people to vote. In reality, the so-called investigation will be used to justify even further voter suppression efforts of the kind that Republicans put in place after the Supreme Courts conservatives gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Its worth noting that that decision was cheered by newly-confirmed attorney general Jeff Sessions.
Trumps announcement-by-tweet and Millers remarks this weekend have made it clear that the White House is already stacking the deck by equating messy voter rollssuch as a person whose name remains on a list after they move or diewith actual fraudulent voting. Outdated lists are a continual administrative reality; fraudulent voting is a virtually nonexistent one.
In Texas, lawmakers took the Supreme Courts decision to gut the Voting Rights Act as a green light to enforce a restrictive voter ID law that had been blocked under the now-dismantled provisions of the Voting Rights Act. The state argued it was necessary to prevent rampant fraud, but could produce only two cases of voter impersonation out of ten million votes. On the other hand, writes Emory Universitys Carol Anderson, it became clear that nearly 600,000 Texans, mainly poor, black, and Hispanic, didnt have the newly required IDs and often faced financial and bureaucratic obstacles in obtaining them.
A federal judge ruled in the fall of 2014 that the Texas law was discriminatory in intent as well as effect. After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted Texas a stay of the decision, the U.S. Justice Department and civil rights activists asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that the Court should protect public confidence in elections by stopping Texas from implementing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters. But the Court, led by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, kept the law in place, and courts are still wrestling with it.
Even after federal judges slammed some restrictive state voting lawsan appeals court judge wrote that North Carolinas law targeted African Americans with almost surgical precisionRepublican legislators sought new ways to impede minority voters by closing voting locations and limiting voting hours. Investigative reporter and author Ari Berman reported that 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in 2016, and on Election Day there were 868 fewer polling places in states with a long history of voting discrimination, like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina. Its no surprise that many of those states had seen record African American voter participation during Barack Obamas candidacies, and many have witnessed significant growth in their Hispanic population.
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