By Quentin Choy
March 12, 2021
A series of laws aimed at restricting voter access in states such as Georgia, Iowa, and Arizona reveals a Republican Party still struggling to get 2020 through their heads. Losses for a Senate seat in Arizona, two Senate seats in Georgia, and Donald Trump’s loss of the presidency are pills that many GOP lawmakers still cannot swallow.
The debacle over election security did not start with Donald Trump however. It started with Hillary Clinton following her 2016 loss to Donald Trump and concerns of Russian collusion and Russian interference casting doubt on the security of U.S. elections. Trump also decreased voter trust in elections by saying that millions of “illegals” voted in the 2016 election, resulting in Clinton getting a higher popular vote than he did.
The Democratic Iowa Caucuses in 2020 cast further doubt with the use of machines made by a shady company and with Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the current Secretary of Transportation declaring victory. In 2020, Donald Trump casted doubts on mail-in voting, a system which several states had been using for years before the pandemic.
It looked like Trump was doing well on Election Night but as mail-in ballots came in, most of which were votes for Biden, the tide shifted. With Trump casting doubts on mail-in voting and downplaying the pandemic, it led to Republicans being far likelier than Democrats to vote in-person. Democrats were then more likely to vote by mail, which they did. Some pundits called this scenario the Red Mirage in which it looked like Trump was going to win but mail-in votes shifted the tide.
With Trump refusing to concede to Biden and with a ramping up of the so-called “Stop the Steal” campaign, distrust in election integrity was at a tipping point, resulting in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol which aimed to force Congress to stop the certification of Biden’s election victory, which they completed late into the night. On that same day, Jon Ossoff defeated David Perdue in Georgia, flipping both Senate seats in Georgia to the Democrats. Republicans doubted this election’s integrity as well.
Trump’s record which included a downplaying of the virus, a bungled COVID-19 response, and harsh crackdowns on Black Lives Matter protests were factors that led to his loss. The corruption of Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Georgia coupled with their clinging to Trump who had already lost the presidency led to their downfall as well.
These new laws moving through the state legislatures of Iowa, Arizona, and Georgia are the GOP’s revenge to high voter turnout and losses in 2020. Demographics played a role with minorities turning out in large numbers for the presidential election and the Georgia runoff elections. The bills aim to reduce early voting time, restrict the number of ballot drop boxes, end automatic voter registration, and would curtail voting-by-mail. These tools would help to decrease voter turnout and increase chances of Republicans winning elections in these states, although the means are undemocratic.
We must aim to restore integrity to our elections by rebuilding trust in government, candidates, and our institutions while maintaining open access for all voters.
Republicans know that Democrats do better when turnout is high, so if turnout is lowered, then chances for Republican victories are increased. Biden’s 2020 victory should not have been a surprise. It wasn’t a landslide though either. If you paid attention to Trump’s handling of the country in the months leading up to the election, you knew that he was far more vulnerable than in 2016. Perhaps instead of implementing undemocratic policies, the Republican Party could adopt policies that bring in a wider coalition of voters and would make them more competitive, rather than resorting to these sleazy tactics.
Image Courtesy of OneZero- Medium