Maybe it was inevitable. Since John Roberts and the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, essentially on the basis that racism was over, the Republican Party has established itself as a political organization dedicated to preventing Certain People from voting-or having their vote counted. Republicans cooked up the idea the United States has a widespread problem of voter fraud-there is exactly zero evidence this problem exists-and responded to this fantastical issue by instituting voter-ID laws, signature-match policies, address requirements, and curtailing early-voting periods, among others. All these policies disproportionately affected poorer people and people of color, whom Republicans don't want voting because they tend to vote for Democrats.
Combined with gerrymandering, which in one case was ruled by a federal court to have targeted black voters with "surgical precision," the Republican Party's strategy was clear. But now that the midterm elections still didn't go their way-already, it looks like the Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives in the biggest landslide since Watergate-they've stepped it up a level. Republicans are no longer just dedicated to making it harder to vote, and making certain votes count less based on how they draw district lines. They're now against counting all the votes, period.
In Arizona, state Republican groups filed a lawsuit against the state secretary of state, essentially demanding that elections officials stop counting votes. Mail-in voting is big in Arizona, but these ballots take longer to count than those cast on Election Day. As a result, they're still counting-and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is expanding her lead over Republican Martha McSally in the race for U.S. Senate as they keep tallying. Republicans said there are discrepancies in how different counties verify their mail-in votes, so the state just shouldn't count them. A federal judge rejected the suit, allowing the count to continue. What a shame it would be if McSally is kept out of the Senate because they bothered to count all the votes.
[youtube align='center' autoplay='0']https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgGLd6yqDCg[/youtube]
Apparently, Republicans at the national level are mad at McSally for not pushing the phony fraud claims hard enough.
In Georgia, the ongoing farce that is the state's gubernatorial election grinds on. The Republican candidate for governor, Brian Kemp, was also the state secretary of state-meaning, because he refused to recuse himself, that he oversaw his own election process. Kemp waged an egregious campaign of voter suppression while in office: he struck 1.5 million Georgians off the voter rolls and suspended the registrations of 53,000 Georgians before the election, 70 percent of whom were black. In areas with large non-white populations, voting machines were locked up on Election Day, shortages of provisional ballots were reported, and voters often had to wait in line for hours.
It was bad enough that Kemp had his hands on the vote-counting process for as long as he did. Kemp resigned as secretary of state Thursday after a nonprofit sued him alleging a conflict of interest, although Kemp claims he's merely preparing to transition to the governorship. But if he does not win more than 50 percent of the vote, he'll go to a runoff with Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams-a result that's not out of the question, despite Kemp's assertion that he's already won. Counties that had reported all their votes counted are now saying they have more absentee ballots to count. Presumably, if Abrams had conceded, they just never would have counted these votes.
But the really wild stuff is happening, as usual, in Florida. That's where both the governor and Senate races remain hotly contested-and where the president and his allies have stormed into proceedings, pushing conspiracy theories and demanding elections officials stop counting votes. Here's the President of the United States attempting to link the effort to count all the votes to Hillary Clinton and Fusion GPS, the intelligence firm that created the Trump-Russia "dossier." During a ChopperTalk, he unleashed a whirlwind of lies and fantastical claims:
[twitter align='center' id='1060908218883469312' username='joshtpm']https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/1060908218883469312[/twitter]
He was even more direct on Twitter today, simply demanding Republicans be awarded the election victories without counting all the votes:
[twitter align='center' id='1061962869376540672' username='realDonaldTrump']https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1061962869376540672[/twitter]
This was echoed by Governor Rick Scott, the candidate for Senate, who has alleged Democrats are tampering with the election with zero evidence. Scott mentioned Hillary Clinton twice in a statement last week.
He also ordered state law enforcement to investigate the non-existent fraud, a shocking abuse of his power as governor to try to get himself over the line in his bid to become a senator. (He got an assist there from Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has some nerve getting involved here. Bondi once sought a donation from Trump before nixing an investigation into the widespread fraud perpetrated by Trump University in her state.) The investigators found nothing, but Scott filed a lawsuit demanding officials stop counting votes on the basis that a Democratic lawyer who worked on Clinton's campaign, Marc Elias, was helping the party's recount efforts in the state. Elias often works on recount efforts, and again, there's no evidence of fraud.
Needless to say, it's not a great sign for a political party in a democratic republic if that party is against counting all the votes in a democratic election. But the Republican Party long ago began to orient itself against democracy in every recognizable sense, attempting to prevent people from voting and drawing district maps-with the help of advanced computing-to maximize the value of their constituents' votes and minimize those of their opponents.
Trump essentially declared in 2016 that any election result that did not find him to be the winner would be illegitimate. Even when he won the Electoral College, he claimed-again, without a shred of evidence-that he only lost the popular vote because three million (!) undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton. He and his allies are doing the same here, asserting that only a Republican victory is a valid outcome. Anything else is a fraud.
This hard turn towards authoritarianism is totally in keeping with the Republican Party of this era. In Wisconsin, Republican Scott Walker lost his bid for re-election, so his allies in the state legislature are looking to strip the governor's office of its powers before his Democratic opponent takes office. This mirrors almost exactly what Republicans have sought to do in North Carolina, both by acts of the legislature and by failed ballot measures. The message is clear: Republicans must hold power by any means necessary. The will of voters is secondary if it does not accomplish this goal.
For those interested in the continuation of the American republic, though, the message ought to be even clearer: count all the votes. Whoever has more at the end gets to hold the power.
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