Election suppression has long been a system in the USA. But since Trump’s defeat it has been operated openly and even supported by the Supreme Court in a first case. The ex-president had decisively refilled the Supreme Court.
The Democrat Joe Biden has been President of the USA for six months. About 60 percent of the population think he’s doing a good job. That is a far higher proportion than his predecessor Donald Trump ever recorded for himself. If re-elected, the result could still look different today. That has to do with political and legal weapons that Trump himself left behind.
In the past few months, at least 17 of the 50 states have passed new laws restricting the right to vote. Particularly at a disadvantage are population groups who predominantly vote for Democrats; lower income groups, blacks and Latinos. The social breeding ground for these laws is “The Big Lie,” which claims that Trump’s election victory was stolen because the Democrats won with illegal votes. In May, more than half of Republican voters said Trump was “the real President”. For example, Republicans legitimize legislative projects that make postal votes difficult.
But it is not just about the presidential election, but also about the mid-term elections in the coming year and thus the control of Congress. Biden and the Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate, and they could also lose the House of Representatives to the Republicans. According to the Washington Post, a third of all possible Republican congressional candidates, many of them newcomers, are using the “Big Lie” to attract voters nationwide. According to the newspaper, this shows how much Trump dominates the party.
It is not the person himself, but rather his claims that Republicans exploit for themselves. Chuck Gray from the state of Wyoming advertises, for example, that “electoral integrity” is the most important issue for him. He challenges Liz Cheney. The MP was removed from the leadership of the parliamentary group in the House of Representatives because of her criticism of Trump. She was appointed by the Democrats to the House Committee to investigate the January 6th storm on the Capitol.
States do what they want
For decades since the civil rights movement in the United States, changes to the electoral law in a fixed list of states and constituencies had to be approved by the Justice Department in Washington. This should prevent discrimination against certain groups of voters – especially blacks. This included southern states in particular. The black population there looks back on racially motivated election suppression in particular: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina. Arizona was also on the list.
The Voting Rights Law of 1965 prohibits discrimination in elections in general and remains in force. But in 2013 the Supreme Court removed the list of states and constituencies. Since then, they no longer have to have changes approved. You can pass electoral law changes like any other law. Until possible complaints lead to a judgment on the legal path.
Like in Arizona. In the state bordering Mexico, where many Latinos live and where Biden narrowly won after decades of Republican dominance, a law was passed in 2016 that forbids the submission of postal ballot papers through third parties. In addition, it was restricted where they could be handed in. Activists often organize driving services to collect postal ballot papers, or they take people to the polling station when they have no way of getting there themselves. It is mostly low-income voters who disproportionately vote for Democrats.
A court first ruled that the law in Arizona disadvantaged blacks, Latinos and indigenous people in particular. But the dispute went all the way up to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court overturned the verdict a few days ago. The judges saw no discrimination. “The mere fact that there are different effects (on groups of voters) does not necessarily mean that a system does not give everyone the same chance to vote,” the ruling reads. The state’s attempt to prevent election fraud is perfectly legitimate.
In fact, there is almost no election fraud in the US. Nothing could be proven in the last presidential election either, which has been confirmed several times by various bodies. But Trump and the Republicans are using the legend of the “Big Lie” to keep unwelcome voters at bay. In her sharp contradiction, a liberal judge writes accordingly that the verdict is “tragic”. States restricted electoral access “which predictably denies minority members equal access to the ballot box”.
It is forbidden to distribute water
The Supreme Court decision is a victory for Republicans, whose votes come mostly from whites. And for Donald Trump: The six conservative judges voted for it, Trump had three of them put into office. With them, the Conservatives will dominate the highest judicial authority in the United States for years, and possibly decades.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland has announced that the new electoral laws of the states will be checked for their admissibility. The focus is on discrimination against certain groups of voters. But whether that will be successful is questionable. At the end of June, Biden’s government filed a lawsuit against new regulations in the state of Georgia. There it is now forbidden to distribute water and food to those waiting when they are queuing at the polling stations.
Election suppression tactics also include opening as few polling stations as possible in areas where low-income sections of the population live. There are disproportionately large numbers of blacks and Latinos, the majority of whom vote for Democrats. Often they have to queue much longer than those who are better off to cast their votes. Sometimes it takes hours.
Georgia used to be a bank for the Republicans, largely because the Democrats couldn’t tap the potential of black voters. That has changed in the past few years. They won the state in the presidential election and got both senatorial posts.
It is entirely possible that Trump will call his conqueror to take revenge in 2024. If the Supreme Court continues to rule in favor of such election suppression measures, it could help the ex-president. Trump would benefit from his own legacy, namely the “Big Lie” and the weapons he left with it.