If there were an Olympic contest for voter suppression, who would win?
We have three contenders. The Republican Party creating new laws to deny Americans their right to vote. The billionaire Koch brothers funding ALEC and the Heritage Fund that draft these bills and fund Republicans. And Justice John Roberts who gutted the Voting Rights Bill that gave the green light to voter suppression.
Who deserves the gold medal for voter suppression?
Black fists. Black pride.
"Wearing beads and scarves to oppose lynchings and black socks with no shoes to highlight poverty, African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos took to the podium during the October 16, 1968, Olympic medal ceremony in Mexico City to receive their respective gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter race. But it was a single accessory—a black glove—and an accompanying gesture—a raised fist during the American national anthem." - History
"The two Black men stood atop the medal podium as the Star-Spangled Banner played and quietly bowed their heads, averted their eyes away from the US flag, and each proudly put a black-gloved fist in the air to protest racism in America." - The Weekly Challenger
What would they say about racist Republican voter suppression measures over fifty years later?
Republican voter suppression
"Republicans in 18 states enacted 30 laws that restrict access to the vote in 2021. These laws make mail voting and early voting more difficult, impose harsher voter ID requirements, and make faulty voter purges more likely, among other things. This wave of restrictions on voting — the most aggressive we have seen in more than a decade of tracking state voting laws — is in large part motivated by false and often racist allegations about voter fraud." - Brennan Center
These laws make it harder for the poor, elderly and disabled to vote. Some of the measures:
- Shorten window to apply for a mail ballot and the deadline to deliver mail ballot
- Limit the number, location, or availability of mail ballot drop boxes
- Eliminate Election Day registration
- Increase barriers for voters with disabilities
- Ban snacks and water to voters waiting in line
There are so many Republican voter suppression bills, it is hard to keep track of them all. DemLabs created this map of bills by state (as of June 2021) to make it easier to track with public data from the Brennan Center. The map can be freely shared with this link https://arcg.is/0DfHKz or embedded in a website with this line of code:
< iframe width="300" height="200" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen src="https://arcg.is/0DfHKz"></iframe>
Justice John Roberts
"The Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with a history of racist voting discrimination to “preclear” any new voting-related laws with the Justice Department or with federal judges in Washington, DC. But this preclearance provision was initially scheduled to expire five years after the law was signed in 1965. The 2006 Voting Rights Act reauthorization passed both houses by overwhelming margins. It was signed into law by Bush.
Roberts’s majority opinion in Shelby County posits that the United States simply isn’t racist enough to justify a fully operational Voting Rights Act. Preclearance — requiring states to get federal permission before changing their own voting laws — was an “extraordinary” measure adopted to “address an extraordinary problem,” Roberts claimed. Yet, nearly a half-century after the Voting Rights Act first became law, “the conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions.” Black voter turnout “has come to exceed white voter turnout in five of the six States, Roberts claimed." - VOX
A wave of state laws making it harder to vote have swept the country since, including restrictive photo identification and proof of citizenship laws, reductions in early voting hours and the voter registration time period, closing over 1,500 polling places and expansive voter purges, among other things." - HuffPo
The Koch Brothers fund the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Heritage Action which draft voter suppression bills that Republicans make into law for their wealthy donors. Justice Roberts approved Citizens United which allows corporations to spend vast amounts of dark money in elections.
"Dark Money Group, Heritage Action Brags About Writing GOP Voter Suppression Bills.
“We did it quickly and we did it quietly,” said the executive director of Heritage Action. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.” The Georgia law had “eight key provisions that Heritage recommended,” Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America, a sister organization of the Heritage Foundation.
Those included policies severely restricting mail ballot drop boxes, preventing election officials from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, making it easier for partisan workers to monitor the polls, preventing the collection of mail ballots, and restricting the ability of counties to accept donations from nonprofit groups seeking to aid in election administration." - Mother Jones
"Why the Koch Brothers and ALEC Don’t Want You to Vote. A key component of the GOP’s campaign has been orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which receives substantial funding from the Koch brothers. ALEC drafted mock photo ID legislation and in five states that passed ID laws in the past year—Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin—the measures were sponsored by legislators who are members of ALEC." - The Nation
Who gains from voter suppression?
Follow the money. Billionaires get richer by having their taxes cut and relaxed environmental regulations on their companies. These billionaires are willing to gladly donate to politicians who will do their bidding.
Republicans rely on donations from wealthy donors and stack the courts with conservative judges who rule in favor of corporations over working Americans. If every American voted, it would upset the billionaire donation stream to Republicans. That's why voter suppression is so vital for Republicans to cling to power and billionaires to get even richer.
Fight voter suppression
"Congress has the power to stem the tide. The For the People Act, passed by the House and now awaiting action in the Senate, would mitigate the effect of many state-level restrictions. And the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would protect voters by preventing new discriminatory laws from being implemented." - Brennan Center
TakeAway: There are no medals for voter suppression. Stop billionaires conspiring with politicians to deny Americans their right to vote.
Credits: Cartoons used are from Political Cartoons including Dave Granlund and Randall Enos.