Image: Mike Pence from Flicker

Maria Isabel Puerta Riera March 10, 2021

Republican lawmakers couldn’t please former President Donald Trump by attempting to overturn the election results on January 6, so they decided to change the laws for the next election. State legislatures have introduced more than 250 bills intended to significantly reduce voting rights across the country. These efforts in voter suppression have historically targeted minority voters, especially Black voters.

Voter suppression has been a fundamental feature of the formerly conservative party, and whether by gerrymandering, passing restrictive voter ID laws, upholding felony disenfranchisement, promoting voter registration purges, or eviscerating the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Jim Crow era doesn’t seem to be so long ago.

After the insurrection, Joe Biden’s inauguration came as a sign that democracy was safe, momentarily, but that the underlying problems were still there, representing a critical threat to the system. The string of lies the former president, his followers, and the GOP have continued to spread, leading to the violent sacking of the Capitol, are indicators of the perilous situation American democracy finds itself in.

After the insurrection, the string of lies the former president, his followers, and the GOP have continued to spread, leading to the violent sacking of the Capitol, are indicators of the perilous situation American democracy finds itself in.

For the past three weeks, the Democratic majority in the Congress has demanded answers from former and current officials responsible for the safety and intelligence failures that allowed the Capitol to be stormed. This was not only a shameful episode in American history, but also a warning that if the threat represented by anti-government actors aligned with the former president is treated with impunity, the consequences could provoke the breakdown of democracy in the near future.

Republicans didn’t wait long to plan for the next election, while also contesting the results that unequivocally made Joe Biden the 46th president of the United States.

It was clear that Republicans were not going to allow people to vote easily, especially after their defeat in Georgia. Voting by mail has been a tradition in some Republican-leaning states, like Florida, where the governor is now proposing changes to the state’s vote-by-mail laws, making the case for limiting its use. It seems the Republican Party doesn’t mind if with this decision they could be hurting themselves, especially considering that in Florida the retiree population depends on voting by mail.

The governor’s proposal makes it clear that for the Republican Party it is crucial to prevent minorities from voting by mail; they must have done their math, and with this measure, they can suppress the vote sufficiently to allow them to win.

The most recent Supreme Court arguments make clear the GOP will do anything, even recognize before the Court that preserving the right to vote goes against their interests. The Arizona case allowed the Republican Party to be on the record in their historical voter-suppression efforts with the support of a conservative supermajority that seems committed to continuing to break up the Voting Rights Act.

These state cases are mostly based on the argument of alleged electoral fraud being made under the cover of the pandemic; however, the lawsuits are not only going after voting by mail, which was extended due to health and safety concerns after the covid outbreak. These cases are attempting to make it easier for GOP-controlled state legislatures to eliminate provisions that protect minorities’ voting rights. According to Bruce V. Spiva, a lawyer representing the DNC, “More voting restrictions have been enacted over the last decade than at any point since the end of Jim Crow.”

This is not an unusual ploy. There has been a pattern giving the GOP the freedom to admit that allowing certain groups to vote is detrimental to its electoral interests: from Lindsey Graham to Donald Trump, the formerly conservative party has publicly expressed that voting rights should be limited to a certain type of voter: Republicans.

Republicans don’t want racial minorities to vote. Whether it is disenfranchising voters by limiting their registrations; manipulating districts, or blocking voter access to ballots and polling stations—these are actions that must be defeated.

The country needs to get behind the most recent legislation passed by the House of Representatives. Otherwise, the states are going to continue limiting voting rights, and in consequence, create the conditions for a renewed Jim Crow era.

Published by AlterNet on 03/10/2021: