The Republican Party for years has beat the drums to the notion that there is massive voter fraud within the country and that it must be stopped. Behind this idea, they have spear-headed efforts to put in place “voter ID laws” intended to put an end to this widespread crime. However, exactly no evidence exists to support these claims by Republicans. And that is precisely the point. The end game for the party has little to do with ensuring the integrity of US elections, and instead grasping victory from the jaws of ideological defeat.
Back in August of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson singed the Voting Rights Act into law. This monumental piece of legislation bolstered the 14th and 15th amendments guaranteeing protection to all citizens against any attempts by states to impede their right to vote, especially racially motivated ones. For over 45 years this really protected the integrity of local, state, and federal elections by ensuring any legal citizen could be able to vote with relative ease and enfranchised millions of people. Section 5 of the VRA required that states get approval from the federal government for new laws that involved voting, and could have their laws tossed out if deemed to be in violation of the act. Yet this key section of the VRA was thrown out in 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder by the Supreme Court by a 5-4 margin with the consensus being that “things have changed dramatically” in the South since its inception. This ruling set off a chain reaction of Republican controlled states cracking down on the right to vote, and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by a conservative controlled supreme court has given them a powerful for rigging elections: Voter ID laws.
The “premise” of voter ID laws is that it ensures one-person-one vote, i.e. that nobody is voting more than once or that non-citizens aren’t participating in elections. President Donald Trump most recently claimed that three to five million people voted illegally in the 2016 Presidential election. But this is simply not factual. In 2014 a study was published in the Washington Post that found that there had been exactly 31 instances of fraudulent voting in the United States out over 1 billion ballots cast from 2000 to 2014. A rate of only 0.0000031%. Two studies by Arizona State University found similar rates of voter fraud. The Texas fifth circuit court of appeals in an opinion finding their voter laws racially discriminatory, stated that only two cases of voter fraud in nearly 20 million ballots had been prosecuted in the decade. Study after study after study finds the same exact thing: The only fraud is the lie of voter fraud spread by the Republican Party.
Conveniently ignoring the countless studies falsifying their claim, the GOP has taken this talking point and run with it. Alabama shortly after instituted widespread voter ID laws. Nearly 10% of Alabama’s voters, over 250,000 people, lack the required ID to vote the vast majority of whom are of minorities. Once this law was enacted, Alabama citing “budget constraints” closed or reduced hours to thirty-one DMV offices (the only place to get the required ID) in heavily black communities. A lawsuit filed against Alabama claims that a black 18-year-old who does not drive wants to vote, but his local DMV office is open one day a month. Another requires a 40 mile round trip. It is no secret that Democrats are heavily favored by minorities across the country and Alabama’s Republican legislature is fooling nobody in their power grab attempt to bolster their illegitimate majority.
But Alabama isn’t alone. Wisconsin has become infamous for their vote suppression efforts led by Governor Scott Walker, also known for his assaults on labor unions and worker rights, since the VRA gutting. Originally overturned in 2014, and then again reinstated in 2015, Wisconsin’s voter ID laws are some of, if not the most strict in the country. Some estimates place the number at over 300,000 eligible voters who did not possess the required form of identification to vote in the 2016 election. And in a state that has voted for the Democratic candidate for President in each election since 1988, Donald Trump’s margin of victory in 2016 was only 22,000 votes. Republicans and Donald Trump did not carry the state of Wisconsin in the past election by their own merits; The state of Wisconsin was stolen.
North Carolina is yet another state abusing their powers opened to them by the 2013 VRA ruling. North Carolina’s voter ID law scrapped 7 days of early voting, same day registration, and out of precinct voting. Fortunately the Richmond, NC federal court tossed this law and decided that the data lawmakers of the state had obtained showed that “African-Americans disproportionately lacked the most common kind of photo ID, those issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.” In fact, the law was so obscene that the court found that it targeted African-Americans with intent to disenfranchise with almost “surgical precision.”
Unfortunately, voter identification laws aren’t the only tool in the Republican tool box in their quest to suppress democracy, especially in North Carolina. Gerrymandering state and congressional district lines have enabled the party to nearly hand-pick their voters and vastly reduce the power of one’s vote. This process involves grouping opposition voters into highly concentrated districts while grouping a simple majority of favorable voters into others. For example, Republicans won only a plurality with 49% of the House of Represtatives popular vote, but ended up with a nearly 56% of the seats leading to a near 50 seat majority. The most notable impact of this can be seen in North Carolina. Out of the 13 congressional seats, 77% (10) of them are held by Republicans. But when analyzing the votes for Democratic and Republican candidates, out of the 4.5 million votes cast for House candidates in 2016 Republicans only received about 2.4 million votes, good for only 53% of the vote. If North Carolina had non-partisan district lines this would produce a 7-6 split for Republicans and Democrats in the House for the state. Just this past May, the Supreme Court tossed out two of North Carolina’s congressional district lines as unconstitutional and stated that they must be redrawn. This biggest component of the ruling was the obvious targeting of reducing black voter representation by concentrating them heavily into two districts to reduce their impact within the other eleven.
The attack on democracy by the Republican party must come to a halt. Voter ID laws and a grotesque level of gerrymandering where parties pick the voters instead of the voters picking the parties is a severe risk to the integrity of one-person-one-vote. Voter fraud has been proven time and again to be an unfounded lie touted by the GOP. Which leaves only one conclusion to be had: The Republican Party itself is the only fraud affecting the ballots in voting booths across the country.