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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/9/20

Will Trump's GOP Finally Kill American Democracy?

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Reprinted from columbusfreepress.com by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman

For Donald Trump's GOP followers, the real issue in the 2020 election is democracy itself.

They want it abolished.

Their primary allies are the Coronavirus, state legislatures like those in Ohio and Wisconsin, and the US Supreme Court.

The campaign just hit a new level in Wisconsin. Using the Pandemic, its gerrymandered GOP legislature made voting in the April 7 primary as dangerous as possible. The US Supreme Court, with its usual 5-4 death hammer, has backed them up.

That 5-4 margin selected George W. Bush (Bush v. Gore) in 2000, and cemented the corporate purchase of our elections with Citizens United (2010), Arizona Clean Elections (2011), Shelby County (2013) and McCutcheon (2014).

In recent years Republican governors and legislators have done all they can to limit the franchise. With discriminatory laws demanding voter ID, de facto poll taxes, abolition of early voting, elimination of neighborhood precincts, failure to deliver ballots and voting machines, bans on voting by alleged ex-felons and more, the GOP has assaulted the ability of citizens of poverty, youth and color to vote.

Now the 2020 Pandemic has made it all but impossible to run voting stations. With social distancing and other necessary precautions, operating 116,990 precincts for some 138,000,000 voters, as in 2018, would be impossible.

The Brennan Center for Justice now estimates it would take about $2 billion to federally fund absentee balloting for the whole nation. All registered voters would be mailed a ballot which they would send back to election boards or voting centers. Social distancing and other challenges raised by the pandemic would be eliminated.

An all paper vote-by-mail system may be the clearest route to a fair election. With ballots mailed to all registered voters, citizens would have the option of mailing or walking them back in to election boards. Centralized election centers would handle voting for those with special needs, and would provide for late registration and mass voting, as in the black community's "souls to the polls" tradition.

Managing a paper-based universal system poses a wide range of serious challenges. But it can circumvent the main obstacles posed by a Pandemic, and offers a welcome alternative to the chaotic hodge-podge of hackable voting machines and rigged polling places that have cursed so many recent elections.

With a well-run universal paper-based mail-in system, we have every reason to believe that voter turnout would soar and reliable vote counts and recounts would be reasonably do-able.

Which is exactly what the Trump Cult most fears. For them, an easily accessible, reliably verifiable voting process is the ultimate enemy. If such a system were put in place, says Trump, "the Republicans would never win another election."

In other words, for Trump and his ilk to stay in power, democracy must be crushed.

This week's disaster in Wisconsin may be exactly what the Republicans have in mind. Trump's ineptitude and greed have deepened and prolonged the Pandemic. Now he has used it in Wisconsin to crush democracy itself.

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