250 laws to restrict the right to vote: The US Republicans want to make it difficult for citizens to cast their vote after losing power. And they even have a chance of success.
It seems like an ice cold campaign of revenge against democracy. In those states in which the voters ensured that the US Republicans have lost their power in Washington, the party wants to make voting much more difficult for citizens in the future.
In the southern state of Georgia, for example, where Donald Trump’s defeat by Joe Biden was decisive and where the Democrats won the two Senate seats, they also got a majority in the US Congress, there was a record turnout. In the future, the elections should look like this, according to the will of the Republicans:
Without a valid reason, voters should no longer be able to vote by postal vote. The opening hours of the polling stations are to be shortened – although in certain areas of Georgia it is already common to wait for hours in front of the polling station. In those queues it should be forbidden in future to distribute food or drink to the waiting voters. These are just a few of the rules that the Republicans still want to pass with a majority in the state parliament in March.
The biggest attack on voting in decades?
Georgia is anything but an isolated incident. After the election defeat, Republicans introduced similar laws into parliament in almost every US state. The Brennan Center for Justice, which researches suffrage at New York University, has counted more than 250 laws on the way in 43 states.
The thrust is similar everywhere: Republicans want to make it harder for citizens – more precisely, those groups of voters who do not vote for them in the majority.
They won’t be successful everywhere, but in 24 states they have the majorities necessary to set such hurdles. The Democrats rail against the largest attack on the right to vote in decades.
Intoxicated by their own campaign
The campaign has been boosted by Trump’s lies about the supposed fraud in his election defeat. At the grassroots level, a majority of supporters believe that the election was illegally wrested from Trump.
The party is downright intoxicated on their campaign. In the equally important state of Arizona alone, they have now introduced 22 laws that are intended to curtail the right to vote. It is argued that they want to restore confidence in elections.
Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz say they want to prevent “illegal immigrants” and ex-offenders like “child molesters” from casting their votes. But numerous studies show that their rules also exclude voting African-Americans and Latinos – groups that traditionally have a majority vote for the Democrats.
Trump: “Never again a Republican elected”
Because it’s about much more than revenge for the 2020 elections. The campaign began long before Trump. Republicans have been of the opinion for decades that a low turnout benefits them: their regular voters have long been considered more reliable. And the party has always had a majority among white voters since 1968.
The core function in democracy, the voting of the citizens, has degenerated into a party-political bone of contention.
That is why the Republicans viewed the postal vote, which was expanded in the wake of the corona pandemic, so critically. Back when the topic first came up a year ago, Trump himself spoke at one appearance, which many party friends usually only express in a similar way behind closed doors. “If you agreed, a Republican would never be elected again in this country.” True to the motto: the less you choose, the better for us.
With the campaign against all-too-easy voting, Republicans hope to retake the Senate and House of Representatives in 2022 – and then the White House in 2024, with or without Trump on the ballot paper.
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But the fight over who can vote in US democracy and who is not has been raging for much longer. It has always been made more difficult for minorities to participate in elections. After the liberation of slaves, southern states like Georgia were very inventive to exclude black citizens from voting, for example with reading tests and constantly new rules.
It was the time of the so-called “Jim Crow Laws”, which were supposed to prevent blacks from becoming equal citizens. Election researcher Michael McDonald of the University of Florida calls the current wave of reforms “the biggest rollback in suffrage since the Jim Crow era”. Today’s urging by Republicans to present ID cards is particularly affecting poorer African Americans, who often do not have an ID card – this is not mandatory in the United States.
Democrats find it difficult to counter this
The Democrats, in turn, want to oppose this with their majority in Washington and impose legal requirements on the states on how the right to vote should be protected.
States should automatically register their voters, for example when they register for a driver’s license. They should generally allow postal voting without having to prove a specific reason, and offer early voting in the period of two weeks before the election – as is well known, the elections in the USA take place on a Tuesday in November, on which many workers often do not Have time to queue for hours in front of the polling stations. Convicted offenders who have served their sentences should also be given the right to vote again. Republicans say the Democrats are just as interested in their partisan advantage.
The majority of Democrats are not enough to pass these rules. You would need 60 votes in the Senate – including the approval of ten Republicans. They will hardly be found.
Both sides can mobilize with their advance on the grassroots. There is yet another great battle raging over the right to vote.
The new restrictions on voting rights are also likely to end up in court. In a far-reaching ruling in 2013, the US Supreme Court allowed states to deviate from the federal guidelines from Washington for the right to vote. As a result, more than a thousand polling stations were closed in five southern states such as Georgia, mostly in areas where the poor and minorities live.
The tug-of-war over who is allowed to vote in the US and who is not will go on for a long time.