A lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party explained that again in Supreme Court arguments this week. Asked “What’s the interest of the Arizona RNC in keeping, say, the out-of-precinct ballot disqualification rules on the books?” by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the lawyer replied, “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats.”
It’s that simple for Republicans. If they can find a way to disqualify a type of vote that is more likely to go to a Democrat, they want to disqualify that entire type of vote.
The voting rights bill Democrats are trying to pass, meanwhile, would make it easier for everyone to vote. It would require states to carry out automatic registration of eligible voters and same-day voter registration, to have 15 days of early voting, and to allow no-excuse absentee voting. It would restore voting rights for returning citizens and limit purges of voter rolls. It would create a public financing system for congressional campaigns and revamp the useless Federal Election Commission. It would restrict gerrymandering by having redistricting carried out by independent commissions. It would bring dark money into the light.
So: registering more people to vote, giving people more ways to vote, drawing congressional district lines fairly rather than according to partisan benefit, preventing billionaires from secretly buying elections. Republicans are outraged.
According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the For the People Act is an attempt by Democrats to “tilt the playing field in their side’s favor.” No, Mitch, if Democrats tried to, say, institute automatic voter registration only in cities of more than 100,000 people while closing voter registration sites in rural areas, that would be an attempt to tilt the playing field in their side’s favor. That would be tailoring restrictions to partisan ends as Republicans have done again and again, whether by closing drivers license offices in heavily Black areas, as happened in Alabama in 2015, or pushing a bill banning Sunday voting so that Black churches can’t do Souls to the Polls voting drives, as Georgia Republicans are in the process of doing right now.
“Democrats want to use their razor-thin majority not to pass bills to earn voters’ trust, but to ensure they don’t lose more seats in the next election,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. This is a thing he said after every single House Republican voted against a COVID-19 relief package with massive public support, with Senate Republicans contemplating procedural maneuvers to drag it out as long as possible before a final vote. This is the state of play as McCarthy wants to lecture Democrats on not passing bills to earn voters’ trust?
Mike Pence, too, is taking this opportunity to try to grovel his way back into the good graces of the Republican base after he so foully betrayed them by obeying the law and presiding over the certification of President Biden’s win. “After an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election,” he writes at the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal. The “concerns” that Donald Trump created by relentlessly lying for months in an effort to wipe out his big loss in November.
It’s truth vs. lies. Democracy for everyone vs. partisan efforts to disqualify the other side’s voters. Democrats vs. Republicans.