The coming midterm elections might be the most important of your lifetime, considering the desire of some politicians to do away with our current democratic form of government. The following recently appeared on SERENDIPITY.
The Real Steal by Rich Paschall
Gerrymandering – The political manipulation of constituent districts to favor a political party.
If you are ever wondering why a congressional district has such weird-shaped boundaries, it is likely because the party in power drew the boundaries to favor themselves. If you do not want people of color to have representation, for example, then divide them up in such a way that there is no majority in one district. If that is almost impossible, then try to draw the boundaries so they get one district and no others. This can be done with ethnic minorities as well. This process has helped keep many old Republicans in power for decades.
If Republicans control the state redistricting map, as they do in most states, then they can draw the map to minimize the voting power of Democrats. Consider the Republican-controlled state of Ohio. The large cities like Cleveland and Toledo along the lake are likely to vote Democratic. If you can put them in their own districts with other likely-voting Democrats, you can minimize Democratic representation and send more Republicans to Congress. That’s exactly what they did. The dark blue districts have a majority of Democrats and the light blue districts are about 50/50 with a slight edge for Democratic voters. All the other districts are drawn in such a way as to favor Republicans. There are other tactics for the Republican-controlled state houses to use to try capturing light blue districts and strengthening their hold on red ones.
Voter suppression – reduce polling places
If you don’t want so many of your opponents’ voters casting their ballots, a good tactic may be to reduce the polling places in the areas where they are likely to vote. If Democratic voters are forced to travel long distances or stand in long lines, perhaps they will not bother to show up on election day. It may not change the outcome of district races in Democratic strongholds, but it may help to ensure certain outcomes in close races and at the statewide level.
Let’s take the great state of Kentucky, for example. Prior to the 2020 primary, Kentucky cut 95 percent of the polling places in the state. They reduced the number from about 3700 to 200. If you want the Republican senator to have a better chance of winning, let’s say, Mitch McConnell, you might want to have fewer polling places where Democrats vote. In Jefferson country, home to Louisville and half the black voters in the state, the number of polling places was reduced to one. That’s right! There was one polling place for approximately 616,000 registered voters. Some may not only consider this a tactic to defeat Democrats but a racist move to prevent people of color from casting their votes.
Between 2016 and 2020 (the Trump years) approximately 20 percent of the polling places in the US were closed. Of course, some states used COVID-19 as an excuse. There is no doubt that was an issue in the reduction. The extreme amount of cuts and their locations are certainly suspect decisions in many states.
Voter Suppression – restrictive voting laws
Republican state legislatures from around the country have been busy in the last two years passing restrictive voting laws. In some cases, they appear to be targeting people of color who often vote Democratic. In the first half of 2021, 17 states passed 28 laws making it harder for people to vote. The Republican states often used THE BIG LIE (Trump’s false claim the 2020 election was stolen) as an excuse for passing such restrictive measures.
Challenges to two Arizona laws made it all the way to the Supreme Court last year. Not only did the high court uphold the Arizona laws, but some also argue that the decision erodes protections afforded under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If the Trump judges at the Appeals and Supreme Court levels were already willing to have a hand in “Destroying Justice,” don’t you think they would be willing to help in Destroying Democracy as well?
Voter Suppression – mail-in voting
The Trump-appointed postmaster general has been responsible for removing mailboxes, destroying sorting machines, and slowing down first-class delivery. If the mail is unreliable when it is election time, it may discourage some from using this process. This could mean that the sick, elderly, and poor may have no way to vote at all. Historically, these groups tend to vote Democratic. Trump’s postmaster is still in office. In case you are wondering, the current president can not remove him.
State Attorney General – election policies
Many states have seen a lot of advertising for Attorney General races. In some states where the election might be tight, Republicans are pouring a lot of money into the state in order to win this office. What is the increased interest in the state Attorney General?
You may recall that a certain Orange politician was encouraging the Georgia Secretary of State to find him some votes. “There’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, you’ve recalculated.” Georgia investigated the false claims of the then-president and certified the election for the opponent. Attorney General Chris Carr would not help the orange guy by overturning the election results. Now Republicans are hoping to put people in place who are willing to lie for the party and declare the loser to be the winner.
Independent State Legislature Theory – Moore vs. Harper
If none of the above-stated devices will put Republicans in federal offices, including the White House, then perhaps this one will. The theory asserts the proposition that it is the state legislatures that have the authority to determine the outcome of elections and may decide them as they feel appropriate. In other words, they can decide the results of a federal race no matter how the people of the state voted. Further, they could choose their own electors for the Electoral College, rather than the ones picked by the voters.
The ISL (Independent State Legislature) challenge made its way to the Supreme Court before and was rejected in 2015. That was before the Trump Judges. Now the high court has agreed to hear Moore vs. Harper, an ISL case that could throw democracy out the window. It would be a decision that would make Authoritarian rulers, like Russia, North Korea, and China, proud. Will the ultra-conservative court help Republicans appoint the next ruler and have a hand in Destroying Democracy?
Sources include: “Princeton Gerrymandering Project,” Princeton University, gerrymander.princeton.edu, 2022.
“Kentucky Slashes Number of Polling Places Ahead of Primary—Especially Where Black Voters Live,” by Madison Pauly, Mother Jones, motherjones.com June 21,2020.
“The US Eliminated Nearly 21,000 Election Day Polling Locations for 2020,” by Cameron Joseph, Rob Arthur, Vice News, vice.com. October 22, 2020.
“Report: Republican-Led State Legislatures Pass Dozens of Restrictive Voting Laws in 2021,” by Horus Alas, US News & World Report, usnews.com July 2, 2021.
“Georgia officials fact-check an infamous Trump phone call in real-time,” by Rachel Treisman, NPR, npr.org June 21,2022
“6 battleground state attorney general races to watch in 2022,” by Nicole Narea, VOX, vox.com July 21, 2022.
See also: “Destroying Justice,” SERENDIPITY, August 28, 2022.