How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections

After the 2020 elections, Republican lawmakers introduced new voting restrictions in almost every state. From manufacture It is more difficult to cast ballots early to increase the frequency of voter roll cleaningsAt least 25 new restrictive voting laws have been passed potential on the horizon. The GOP has taken such measures on behalf of “Electoral integrity“But at the center of this effort is former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“I compare it to a quack holding up an X-ray, pointing at something that says, ‘See, see, see? ‘And make the person believe that there is really something there on that x-ray that will require expensive and dangerous surgery, “said Carol Anderson, Professor of African American Studies at Emory University, on Republican efforts to pass new voting restrictions, in spite of the fact that they exist no proof of Election fraud in the The optional. “We had a choice that was amazing in the midst of a pandemic. And instead of applauding each other for it, they left with a Trumpian lie. “

It is difficult to understand how new electoral restrictions will affect our elections. Political science has not found that these types of laws, at least as a single measure, have such a big impact. While laws that make voting more strenuous are not new, on this scale we have not addressed the current onslaught of election restrictions and changes in the conduct of elections. On top of that, there’s their nakedly partisan origins – nearly 90 percent of the electoral laws proposed or enacted in 2021 were sponsored primarily or entirely by Republican lawmakers – and the fact that those laws are likely have a greater impact on Black and brown voterswho are less likely to vote Republicans.

Republican efforts to pass new voting restrictions were up so aggressive and widespread that their effects are difficult to predict. By the way, elections do not run by themselves. They are led by people. And these new laws point to an even more troubling problem that threatens to undermine our democracy: the eroding commitment of the GOP to democratic values ​​such as free and fair elections. In many ways, the most important change our elections face may not be a single law, but the GOP’s increased willingness to take such anti-democratic action.

Research on election restrictions

Political scientist studied for years the effects of Electoral laws on voter turnoutincluding the types of policies that make voting easier (or more difficult) and who will be most affected by the rule change. Take voter ID laws that have has been a concern for a long time the GOP. Legislation today to expand their use is on the rise again. In fact, voter identification laws are the second most common type of restriction that lawmakers are currently pushing. according to analysis by the Brennan Center for JusticeOnly new postal voting restrictions will follow.

Such laws are controversial as not everyone has and has access to government-issued photo identification can be a serious barrier. Still, research hasn’t clearly linked voter identification laws to a drop in voter turnout – one recent review found that such laws generally produce at most a marginal reduction at most. Research also disagree in relation to whether such laws significantly reduce voter turnout among people of color.

Trying to differentiate the effects of just one type of restriction, such as B. the requirements for the voter ID, however, is a challenge, since a new electoral law rarely changes only one electoral provision. “The real effect is difficult to measure, not because it doesn’t exist, but because these laws aren’t made in a vacuum,” he said Bernard Fraga, a political scientist at Emory University who studies the relationship between race and voter turnout. Fraga pointed to it the new Georgian lawIt should be noted that it contains “a set of different guidelines” that make it difficult to isolate the implications of a provision. For example, the law requires voters to meet a new strict ID requirement when attempting to vote absent, and limits voters’ ability to cast a preliminary vote if, among other things, they show up to vote in the wrong district.

How voters react to these restrictions also makes it difficult to understand the extent of the effects of these laws. Some researchers have found evidence of this a game effect As voter turnout increases, the effects of voting restrictions may be neutralized. “There is a concerted effort by organizations leading the indictment against these laws to mobilize voters, educate voters of their rights, and ensure they are as well informed as possible about the changes they will need to make in order to vote “he said to Fraga.

Although voters are sometimes able to overcome hurdles, those hurdles still come at a cost. Mobilization efforts and educate citizens to vote despite new restrictions costs time and money – and each new round of restrictions means more time and more money.

When asked how easy (or difficult) it is for Americans to choose, political scientists Quan Li, Michael J. Pomante II, and Scot Schraufnagel tried to answer that question through their ownCost of the voting index, ”, Which evaluates government voting policies in their entirety – from the rigors of voter ID laws to how easy it is to vote absent. they found Countries with fewer barriers to entry see higher voter participation rates even after taking this into account other factors, such as educational level and race. According to the researchers, the higher the electoral costs of a state, the lower the voter turnout in presidential competitions since the mid-1990s.

How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections 1

While measuring the effect of a single voting rule taken together can be challenging, the cost of the voting index suggests that a state is accumulating electoral laws does Influence on voter turnout, with more restrictions leading to lower voter turnout overall.

Schraufnagel, who studies the relationship between electoral laws and participation at Northern Illinois University, told me that while he and his colleagues are confident that their metric predicts voter turnout, they are less sure how different electoral laws will help or help a political party hurt performance. For example, Schraufnagel noted that in states where voter turnout rose more sharply from 2016 to 2020, Trump tended to do slightly better in 2020 compared to his 2016 margin.

This contradicts the longstanding conventional wisdom that there is a higher turnout good for democrats and bad for republicans. The 2020 and his record turnout throw serious doubts about trumps (frankly absurd) Entitlement in the last year If the vote were extended, “you would never get a Republican elected in this country again.” President Biden barely won and Democrats lost a number of house seats. “Anyone who assumes that facilitating the vote has a general partisan advantage that the Democratic Party benefits from misunderstood the facts,” said Schraufnagel.

So in the long run, additional obstacles to coordination could actually hurt Republicans, dampening turnout among white voters without a college degree who have be a big part the GOP basis. Fraga told me this is why he thinks “the polarization of parties’ access to voting” – where Democrats generally advocate facilitating voting while Republicans oppose it – “seems completely backward”.

To be sure, Fraga own research has found That white voters, no matter how easy or difficult it is for them to vote, consistently achieve higher rates than color voters, so we want to be careful not to read too much about it. Jennifer McCoy, a political scientist from Georgia State University who studies the effects of polarization on democracy, told me that she believed the current emphasis on electoral restrictions was due to Republicans who believed they could target Trump’s grassroots by codifying his unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud. “[Republicans] I know they need to attract Donald Trump supporters who now believe there is fraud, ”McCoy said. “Much of the current effort to change electoral law has been a direct response to these last elections.” The vast majority of Republicans continue to believe that Biden’s victory is illegitimate, and a March Pew Research Center poll found Only 28 percent of Republicans and Republicans agreed that “everything should be done” to simplify the voting, a sharp drop from 48 percent in October 2018.

Republicans have in the past supported efforts to expand postal votingMost importantly, given its urgency to restrict use now, it seems not just about placing Trump’s bids, but also targeting battlefield states where enthusiasm for postal voting among color voters was at record levels. “Georgia has had no apologetic absentee ballots since 2005. It was only after this first election that were African Americans mostly used postal ballot papers Now it’s becoming a problem that needs to be resolved, ”said Anderson.

The GOP’s restrictive stance sends the message that Republicans don’t want black and brown Americans to vote. In September 2020, 54 percent of black and 35 percent of Hispanic respondents to FiveThirtyEight / Ipsos said they believed Republicans didn’t want “people like me” to vote.

How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections 2
How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections 3

But these numbers become even more understandable when we look at the history of the GOP with restricted voting access. In our conversation, Anderson quoted an infamous quote from the late conservative political actor Paul Weyrich, which sums up the mindset of many Republicans to this day. “I don’t want everyone to vote.” he said 1980. “In fact, our electoral leverage quite openly increases when the electoral population declines.”

With this in mind, electoral fraud has evolved into what Benjamin Ginsberg, longtime lawyer for Republican Party organizations and officials, has called the GOP’s “Loch Ness Monster” – something Republicans are forever looking for when it doesn’t exist. But that search had a big impact on our electoral law when Anderson told me “the lie of electoral fraud is the rationale” for voting restrictions.

The Republican-led drive for restrictive electoral law is not new

Republican politicians, indeed have argued For years – against all evidence and long before Trump’s “Big Lie” – this election fraud has been a major problem. As a result, Republican voters already had something Bought the idea of ​​the meaning of “electoral integrity” before Trump came and aggravated that belief by making false claims about illegal voting and Election fraud.

In fact, the Republican-controlled state governments have attempted over the past two decades to enact laws implementing “tough” rules on photo identification, which, unlike some voter identification laws, do not make exceptions to identification. You either have photo identification or you don’t have one. The National Conference of State Legislators was pursued the evolution of voter card lawsand by those who have classified it as “strong photo ID” since the mid-2000s, the laws – some of which were shot down by the courts or never enforced – have been almost fully enforced by Republican lawmakers and governors.

Only Republicans are pushing for voter ID laws

At the time of its enactment, which states were enacting “strict photo identification” laws through the party control of the state legislature and the governor?

Party control, if passed
year Status legislative branch governor
2005 Georgia R. R.
2005 Indiana R. R.
2006 Missouri* R. R.
2011 Alabama† R. R.
2011 Kansas R. R.
2011 Tennessee R. R.
2011 Texas* R. R.
2011 Wisconsin R. R.
2012 Mississippi R. R.
2012 Pennsylvania* R. R.
2013 Arkansas*‡ R. D.
2013 North Carolina * R. R.
2013 Tennessee R. R.
2013 Virginia R. R.
2015 North Dakota R. R.
2021 Arkansas R. R.

Year refers to the year a law was passed, not the year it was implemented.

* The law has been blocked or amended by federal or state courts so as not to be strict.

† The NCSL classifies Alabama as a non-strict photo ID, but notes that “some may call Alabama law a strict law on photo identification,” as voters must sign “two electoral officers … affidavits stating that they are.” know the voter ”to avoid returning, a polling station to provide the required photo ID.

‡ Democratic Governor Mike Beebe vetoed the move but was overridden by the Republican-controlled legislature. However, the law was later overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Sources: Benjamin Highton, National Conference of State Legislators

It is important that this list does not contain any states in which there is no photo ID absolutely required to vote, but in some states these laws are almost as strict. For example Wyoming just passed a law Voters must identify themselves to cast a ballot, and the only one Forms of Acceptable ID Medicare and Medicaid insurance cards are not shown.

The first states to pass strict photo ID laws did so in the mid-2000s, not long after Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002, designed to address deficiencies in the electoral system suspended by the 2000 election. HAVA needed this who have registered to vote by email present ID for the first vote (not necessarily a photo ID). However, several GOP-controlled states then proposed much stricter ID requirements than recommended the law and applied it all potential voters. In some States with a history of racial discrimination, the Ministry of Justice stopped the implementation of these laws. But immediately after the Supreme Court was cut in 2013 the supervisory provisions of the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County v HolderStates like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas, which previously had to seek federal approval to amend their electoral laws, began enforcing their own laws.

“I think Shelby will go down in history like Plessy’s decision against Ferguson did,” said Anderson, referring to the infamous 1896 decision of the Supreme Court that established the racist doctrine of “separate but equal”. She pointed out how GOP-controlled states have sought to restrict the eligibility of certain forms of identification in a way that particularly affects people of color. For example, the Alabama Passport Act does not allow its use government-issued public housing card that Black Alabamians are more likely to have. And the 2013 North Carolina law was such an obvious attempt Restriction of electoral access for black Americans that a federal court repealed the law in 2016and wrote that the law targeted black voters in the state “with almost surgical precision”.

Although the North Carolina law was repealed, it underscored that stricter voter identification laws are only part of the multiple efforts Republicans are making to create new voting hurdles that are more likely to affect people of skin color. In addition to new restrictions in deep red states like ArkansasRepublicans are also targeting more competitive states like Georgia and Florida, where new rules do things like restrict access outside of business hours Postal vote Dropboxing although People with color They are more likely to meet irregular schedules and less likely to have access to easy transportation.

These new laws in states with large numbers of color voters follow what Fraga found in his research: States with large, highly committed groups of minority voters – especially black voters – are more likely to introduce new voting restrictions. Fraga noticed Georgia that is about a third blackfits this pattern particularly, as his new law was on the heels of black voters who helped outperform the Democrats in both countries 2020 presidential race and the two of the state 2021 Senate outflows.

The dangerous new frontier:
Interventions in the election results

Georgian law has received a lot of attention for its restrictive voting rules, but also for headlines due to provisions that could make the administration of elections more susceptible to party political interference. The law removed the Secretary of State from the Georgia State Election Board and gave the GOP-controlled legislature control over the appointment of the board chairman. It also empowered the Republican-controlled state board to suspend county electoral officials and appoint temporary successors.

It’s hard to see the first change as anything other than a straight rebuke from Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. who refused Trump’s request for interference in the 2020 elections. Although there are some guard rails to prevent abuse, such as B. Admission requirements that prevent a new candidate or party official from being appointed chairman of the state electoral committee. However, these changes open the door to possible interference with local election management. And who can say future malicious actors won’t break it off its hinges, given Trump’s repeated refusals to accept defeat and widespread disbelief among Republicans that Biden won?

McCoy, who works on democratic relapse, told me that the changes in rules affecting local electoral administration largely fit into the approaches authoritarian parties in other countries have used to target regions where the opposition is stronger. “They will usurp the authority of these locally elected officials by either creating parallel administrative structures and / or controlling the revenue streams to them and basically cutting them off,” she said.

She noted that in Georgia, the GOP-controlled state board could use its power to replace officials in heavily Democratic and black counties such as Fulton and DeKalb, near Atlanta. And worryingly, what happened in Georgia is also bubbling up in a dozen other states where Republicans have proposed laws that could undermine local control over elections. Put a few new laws in Arkansas, for example local election officials More under the thumb by republican-controlled state and regional electoral bodies. Iowa now made it a crime committed against local officials who fail to perform their duties or obey orders from the current Republican Secretary of State and have fined US $ 10,000 for “technical violations” of the right to vote.

Taken together, these developments point to the democratic relapse we have seen in Republican-controlled states over the past few decades. From 2000 to 2018, the most important predictor of the erosion of democratic health in a state was whether Republicans ruled the state government. according to a study by Jacob Grumbach from the University of Washington. And after the 2020 elections, we only saw this come more clearly into focus, as did the Republicans in the state of Biden tried to invalidate the results or proposed legislation to make this possible in the future.

Indeed that V-the institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden published data summarizing political scientists last year. ” Measures of democratic engagement from political parties around the world. As the graph below shows, the GOP in the US has gone completely in the wrong direction over the past half century.

How The Republican Push To Restrict Voting Could Affect Our Elections 4

Prior to 2000, Republicans and Democrats didn’t rate too differently about their “little-d” Democratic attitudes. But with Trump’s 2016 run, the index, which measures the GOP’s democratic engagement, fell by more than half. And while the V-Dem party data only runs through 2018, the Republican score may not continue to deteriorate until it’s updated to reflect the 2020 elections. the scholars who developed the measure said the Washington Post last November.

For McCoy, all of this has to do with the GOP’s response to the country’s sharp political polarization. “The deep polarization of ‘us versus them’ can create a perception that the other political camp is a threat to the nation,” said McCoy. “And that can lead both citizens and political parties to believe that they must do anything – including violating democratic norms – to stay in power or gain power and get the other people out.”

While both Democrats and Republicans are focused on winning elections, it is the GOP that has gone so far as to pursue changes in electoral rules to make it easier to win with minority support – even though it can win with minorities Supported for its advantage in American political institutions such as the US Senate and Electoral College.

“In theory, the parties should try to get more voters,” said Fraga. “You should try to get more people to vote for you, period. This is democracy. “But an existential concern about the loss of power, compounded by Trump’s ‘big lie,’ seems to be fueling the GOP’s recent push to restrict voting rights, even if the research we need to understand shows the ramifications of these new voting restrictions on only modest effects indicates, the cumulative effect persists endangers democracy.

Leave a Comment