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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/10/21

We May Be One Election From Permanent Minority Rule

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Donald Trump has been defeated, but American democracy remains in peril. Here's how we can reverse the trendline.

President Donald Trump was impeached for inciting a mob to violently overturn the 2020 election. He failed. Now, Republican officials across the country are openly radicalizing against democracy by attempting to codify Trump's efforts.

In dozens of states, with little media scrutiny or public debate, the GOP is introducing bills with the express intent of rigging elections, disempowering voters and setting itself up for minority rule. And given how creaky our political institutions have become, the GOP is well on its way to stealing the next election -- and perhaps every one after that.

This effort is perhaps an even greater emergency than Trump's attacks on the 2020 election results. Unless social movements pressure Democrats to act now, both could be locked out of power for generations to come.

Republicans are accelerating their crackdown on voters

The Republican Party has been rolling back voting rights at a state level for years, but those efforts have accelerated since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Following that decision, Republican-controlled states have enacted wave after wave of strict voter ID laws, closed thousands of polling sites, and as one federal judge put it, targeted voters of color with "almost surgical precision."

Trump's war on the 2020 election supercharged this process. Since November, the Brennan Center for Justice calculates that Republican lawmakers in 33 states have introduced at least 165 new bills to curtail voting rights in dozens of states.

In Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona, where Biden narrowly beat Trump on the strength of absentee ballots, the GOP has moved to end no-excuse absentee voting altogether. Republicans in these and many other states are also demanding more stringent voter ID and signature matching, even though evidence of voter fraud is virtually non-existent.

Because historic mobilizations allowed Democrats to recapture the Senate, Georgia Republicans have systematically targeted Black voters, as Ari Berman reports in a crucial new feature for Mother Jones. In a state that already had 10- and 11-hour lines to vote in Black precincts, lawmakers are seeking to greatly restrict early voting -- measures that include closing polls on the Sundays before elections, days many Black churches lead get-out-the-vote drives.

As Common Cause Georgia Director Aunna Dennis tells Berman, "This bill is Jim Crow with a suit and tie."

The Electoral College makes voter suppression much more effective

President Joe Biden won 7 million more votes than Trump in 2020, but Biden's real margin of victory was much, much narrower. Why? Because the popular vote doesn't decide presidential elections -- the Electoral College does. And most states award their entire slate of electoral votes to whichever candidate comes out ahead, no matter the margin.

The way these votes are counted privileges smaller, whiter and predominantly Republican-leaning states. A vote in lightly populated Wyoming, for instance, carries far more weight than a vote in densely populated California. Meanwhile, a razor-thin victory in swing states like Wisconsin or Pennsylvania means the losing candidate walks away with nothing.

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Peter Certo is the acting editor of Foreign Policy in Focus (fpif.org) and the associate editor of Right Web (rightweb.irc-online.org). Both publications are projects of the Institute for Policy Studies.
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