Republicans Admit Why They Are Suppressing Votes

[ Posted Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021 – 18:11 UTC ]

The issue of voting rights could be a pivotal one for Democrats, if they would focus intensely on it for the next month or so, and by doing so get their message out to as many people as possible. The political equation is pretty simple to understand, after all: Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote, while Republicans are making it as difficult as they know how. Republicans do not want you to be able to easily vote, because when that happens, they lose elections. Plain and simple. And they're even flat-out admitting it, these days.

The Supreme Court heard two cases today which could mean the completion of the job they began a few years back, of utterly dismantling the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They gutted the main provisions of it already, but are now looking at defanging the few parts which remain (mainly "Section 2," which prohibits any voting practice that "results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color"). One of the cases [Arizona Republican Party v. D.N.C.] was brought by the Arizona Republican Party, which is a little odd because they are the ones defending state law. Arizona's secretary of state (who would normally be expected to be arguing for a state law, in front of the high court) is a Democrat, and refused to support the lawsuit's appeal, so the Republican Party stepped in to do so instead.

Part of the challenge is an Arizona law which mandates that any ballot cast in the wrong precinct is summarily thrown out and not counted. For instance: if you vote, but mistakenly think you can vote near your work instead of near your home, then your vote just is not counted. Democrats challenged this law, pointing out that this also means that people who move frequently but fail to update their voter registration are effectively disenfranchised, even for statewide races. And that this disproportionately affects voters of color, who tend to move more often.

The law is fairly severe, as these things go. In other states, you might have your "local issue" votes thrown out, but still have votes for the statewide races counted. This means your vote for (say) county commissioner or schoolboard member or on a local referendum to change one town's zoning laws will not count (because you don't actually live in that county or city), but that your vote for governor, senator, or even U.S. president will actually count (since it doesn't matter to such races exactly where in the state you live).

This is all background information for a rather extraordinary answer, given during the oral arguments heard by the Supreme Court today. Here is how the Republican Party lawyer defended his position:

[Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett:] What's the interest of the Arizona R.N.C. in keeping, say, the out-of-precinct ballot disqualification rules on the books?

[Republican Party Lawyer Michael A. Carvin:] Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game. And every extra vote they get through unlawful interpretation of Section 2 hurts us, it's the difference between winning an election 50 to 49 and losing an election 51 to 50.

One snarky comment to begin with: any election where the results were "51 to 50" should really be impossible, because that would mean more than 100 percent of the votes were counted, somehow. He should really have said "and losing an election 49 to 50" instead.

Snark aside, though, that is one jaw-dropping admission of the entire strategy behind all such Republican efforts to make it as hard as humanly possible for minorities and low-income people to vote. Right there, he admits it -- those votes must be suppressed because they tend to be Democratic votes. You'll note he never made the claim that the votes themselves were in any way illegal, or that there was voting fraud happening, or that the voters themselves are somehow doing something illegal -- his entire reasoning is based on extra votes Democrats get "through unlawful interpretation" (in his opinion) of the laws on the books.

This is an astoundingly anti-democratic (with a small "D"). If the Republican Party isn't free to suppress the (large "D") Democratic vote, then they will lose elections. His words cannot be interpreted in any other way. They're saying the quiet parts out loud, in other words, and fully admitting their own ugly partisan and anti-democratic motivation.

But this is far larger than one important Supreme Court case. This is why Democrats need to jump on the issue with both feet and loudly broadcast their rage. The Brennan Center for Justice just released numbers (this list grows, each time they do) showing that there are a staggering 253 bills in 43 states' legislatures all intended (in one way or another, they're very creative with coming up with these ideas) to suppress Democratic votes and make it as hard as possible for people -- Democrats especially -- to cast their ballot. This isn't just one battle being waged by Republicans, it is a full-out war. Democrats need to treat it as such.

Thankfully, in this instance, this won't just be a matter of Democrats playing defense. They are proactively fighting back at the federal level. Democrats have introduced the For The People Act ("H.R. 1" in the House, and "S.R. 1" in the Senate, which shows the importance they've placed on it), a sweeping set of new federal regulations to reform (transform, really) our election process. Also moving forward in the House this month will be the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would restore the previous Voting Rights Act of 1965 to legality. Both are important weapons in this legislative war over voting rights.

But to be ultimately successful, Democrats need to win the battle of the airwaves -- and they need to do so from the very start. Luckily, framing this issue for voters is pretty easy, because most voters value basic fairness and support universal voting rights. So I end today with some possible ways for Democrats to make these points, because this is indeed a battle worth fighting, and fighting as hard as possible. The next few weeks will determine how this fight is presented to the public, and this is how Democrats should do so:

The Republican Party as a whole -- both in Congress and in statehouses across the country -- is now engaged in a cynical bit of politics designed to suppress Democratic votes. They have taken the "Big Lie" from the last election -- that it was somehow stolen or fraudulent, neither of which is true -- and they're using that Big Lie as the basis to pass all kinds of disgusting laws to make it as hard as possible for you to vote. They are trying to get rid of Sunday voting, because Black churches are very effective in their "souls to the polls" voter efforts. What possible reason -- even if you believe the Big Lie that Donald Trump somehow lost -- would there be to ban Sunday voting? There is no more fraud on Sundays than there is on Tuesday or any other day of the week! One state is even now passing a law making it illegal to pass out drinks to people standing in line to vote. That's right -- handing a voter a bottle of water because he or she has been standing there for four hours in the hot sun waiting to vote will now be illegal. How in the world does that prevent any sort of voting fraud? These laws are indefensible, and they are all being passed for one reason and one reason alone -- to make it as hard as possible for people to vote -- especially when they are Democrats. This is today's Republican Party, folks -- they've completely given up on trying to win elections fair and square. They fully admit that without such cheating they would lose more elections. They're not even trying to hide it anymore. Vote Democratic if you value your right to vote. Democrats are fighting hard for everyone's right to vote, and their right to do so as easily and as conveniently as possible. Republicans are fighting against all of that, because they believe the Big Lie of massive voter fraud which does not now and never has existed. The difference couldn't be any clearer, really.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


25 Comments on “Republicans Admit Why They Are Suppressing Votes”

  1. [1] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    And to think that today's SCOT US is likely a more Conservative version of the SCOTUS that partially eviscerated the VRA and inflicted Citizens United on our small-d democracy.

    Fuck Biden, Manchin and Sinema -- the filibuster has to go! It's not in our Constitution. It's was most notoriously used to oppose Civil Rights. And it's will squash the Democrat's ability to get anything game changing done.

  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    If the Dems fail to dump the filibuster that will clearly indicate that they're working strictly for our top 10% and only pretending to care about the rest of us.

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    23] C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Caddy (20)

    Where were you when I posted (well ahead of normal election day) that I had already voted for the Dem pres candidate for the first time in my life...

    My bad -- I simply missed amidst all the comments. I don't need to check with Kick, as your word is good enough for me!

    Bernie Bro that I am I had a hard time voting for Hillary in 2016 (almost went with Jill Stein.) This must have been tougher for you.

    I'm curious: would you have voted against Trump if Bernie was the Democratic candidate?

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    That was a pretty awesome speech to the nation delivered by the president today.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I'm curious: would you have voted against Trump if Bernie was the Democratic candidate?

    Ah, this is a reality-based political blog, you know. :)

  6. [6] 
    andygaus wrote:

    I think it was George W. Bush who said that there are people out there "who hate our freedoms." The implication was that those people were in other countries. It needs to be said that there are people in our own country who hate our freedoms as much as any foreign national, and specifically they hate our freedom to vote, and they are much more dangerous because they are in a position to do much more harm.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well said!

  8. [8] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Regarding the new John Lewis Act, the For the People Act and $15,
    Joe has NO bleeping excuse.
    Period, full stop.

    Recall the campaign, ...unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, who was a relative newcomer to politics, Biden’s major selling point was that he knows “how to make government work”.

    One reason Obama was never as popular during his Presidency as he was afterwards was because his promise of "Hope and Change" proved to be majorly disappointing to us Progressives.

    Barack Obama refused to lift a finger to pressure similarly conservative Democratic senators to support a wildly popular public insurance option or a union card check initiative that he explicitly promised. He had enormous congressional majorities and a huge election mandate, but didn’t bother to go to Democratic states to build Democratic voter pressure against recalcitrant Democratic senators.

    Elizabeth, this is where the rubber meets the road! If Joe has the political will he'll get these things done. And if they don't get done it'll mean he didn't have the political will to deliver for anyone in the 90%.

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Having said that Joe has to prove that Ralph Nader was wrong about the Dems and Repugs being the same on economics/wealth distribution -- let's not forget that today marks only the sixth full week of the Biden Administration. So, as a sceptical Progressive, I'm trying not to get my panties all bunched up prematurely.

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    [9] the poet said, "Don't worry -- there will be plenty of time to panic later!"

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Settle down, MtnCaddy. Rome wasn't built in a year.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's been six freakin' weeks for crissakes.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, by the way, has Blyed ever come to the CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party? Hmmmm?

  14. [14] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, I guess there is a first time for everything. :)

  15. [15] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Blyed, you are officially invited to the next CW Sunday Night Music Festival and Dance Party, the first one to be devoted to a Texan theme!

  16. [16] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Caddy [3]

    Actually, I didn't vote for Trump in 2016, went for Anderson (Libertarian).

    Had Bernie been on the ballot ln 2020, I'd have gone Libertarian again.

    I could never vote for trump regardless of who else was ever on the ballot..

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    So Republikillers are admitting why they want to suppress votes?

    Not really.

    What Republikillers are admitting is that we really don't have a democracy.

    "Because it puts us at a competitive relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game. And every extra vote they get through unlawful interpretation of Section 2 hurts us..."

    Republikillers are admitting that we have set up a system that only offers two choices and suppresses any other choices.

    This means that neither party has to offer anything but superficial differences while they work together for the big money interests.

    If the Deathocrats really wanted free and fair elections they would work to open up the process to a level playing field for all parties and candidates instead of just trying to gain advantage for Deathocrats. They wouldn't be trying to suppress votes in the primaries to challengers of the Deathocrat establishment.

    The Republikillers proposing the suppression laws and Deathocrats opposing them are just part of the show. As long as we are watching show then we don't pay attention to how it is just a show to keep from noticing what they are doing together to screw us.

    There may be many people that are stupid enough to be fooled by the show, but you don't fool me with your propaganda.

    Shame on you.

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.
    Get Real.
    Get Credible.

  18. [18] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Right on, CRS. Libertarian isn't a bad choice, especially if Trump is one's only other choice besides us Commie Democrats.

    I used to respect the Republican Party and I firmly believe there must be a Center-Right Party to balance us Libtards.

    For example, IMO Eisenhower was an excellent President -- you should compare his agenda and accomplishments to what Bush the Younger and The Donald did and didn't do.

    I hated Nixon over Vietnam and Watergate but at least Nixon established the EPA, reached out to China and eventually pulled us out of Vietnam --
    after his 1968 chicanery vis a vis the peace talks, that is.

    The Republicans lost me with the advent of Reaganism. Shrinking government -- via tax cuts mostly benefitting the top 10% -- until it's small enough to drown in a bathtub is nothing less than undoing the New Deal. And leaving most of us to the tender mercies of the free market.

    I can't resist pointing out that hurricane ravaged Floridians and Texans always seem grateful that government hasn't quite yet
    been drowned in a bathtub.

  19. [19] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    This means that neither party has to offer anything but superficial differences while they work together for the big money interests.

    Dude, statements like this really hurt your cause. I read stuff like this and I think, "Oh yeah? As much as I'm not a fan of Hillary if she'd have won in 2016 maybe 400,000 American Covid casualties would still be alive."

    Just because Ralph Nader was right about the Dems and Repugs being tweedle dee and tweedle dum doesn't much matter to some 400,000 grieving American families. That is, Trump being elected instead of Hillary made more than a superficial difference, hello.

  20. [20] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Woo-hoo! Texas theme it is. Hey ready for some Steavie Ray Vaughn and ZZ Top.

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I can't wait!

  22. [22] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But, I will ... :)

  23. [23] 
    Mopshell wrote:

    What are republicans claiming as justification for legislating to criminalise eating and drinking while waiting in line to vote? I'm really curious to know how they are selling this to their own voters.

    Why does each voter have only one polling place they can go to? I can vote at any polling booth in my state on election day. If I'm not working that day, I prefer going to the local hospital to vote because there's never a line there.

    I also wonder why Americans value tradition over fairness and efficiency. Updating the details of your voter registration is easy here but a burdensome chore in America, especially if you move from one state to another. I've moved states here quite often and updating my voter registration only ever involves filling out one simple form online. I don't have to cancel it in one place then register from scratch in another. That's automatically done for me.

    Americans really are very tolerant of unnecessary bureaucracy.

  24. [24] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Caddy [18]

    Re "Tax cuts mostly benefitting the rich."

    That phrase, beloved of Libs, is the equivalent of saying "Medicines only benefit the sick."

    A quick visit to the IRS website reveals that the top 50% of taxpayers pay 97% of the taxes they collect, while the bottom half of all taxpayers pay the remaining 3%.

    So, the inevitable solution to the "problem" you guys feel your shibboleth represents, just requires you to first COLLECT a little tax from the "poor", in order for them to benefit from tax cuts, right?

  25. [25] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki

    That phrase, beloved of Libs, is the equivalent of saying "Medicines only benefit the sick."

    Some medicines are given to people who aren't sick to keep them from becoming sick and thus help other people from becoming sick even if they refuse to take the medicine. Everyone pays taxes in one form or another, Stucki, so it's ridiculous for you to keep whining incessantly about poor people not paying taxes when dang near everyone pays them in some form or another.

    As far as income taxes, MtnCaddy claimed that the tax cuts since Reagan benefitted primarily the top 10%, and he is correct. When Donald Trump and his similarly situated ilk are able to take a slew of tax deductions that reduce their income to near zero and below zero, how are they any different than the so-called "poor"?

    A quick visit to the IRS website reveals that the top 50% of taxpayers pay 97% of the taxes they collect, while the bottom half of all taxpayers pay the remaining 3%.

    You omitted to explain that an adjusted gross income (AGI) of merely $41,740 lands you in the top 50%. If your AGI on an income tax form determines whether or not you are rich or poor, then Donald Trump and a whole slew of billionaires are poor since many of them pay no taxes because they take deductions and losses that allow them to pay little to no income tax. You seem to never be able to grasp this concept every time it is discussed and just fall back on the same old tired drivel and spew.

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