GOP efforts to stymie voting demonstrate that they know they lost in 2020

Republican candidates, by and large, did not have a great 2020. Georgia ousted its Republican senators, Trump-backed Republicans struggled in moderate Congressional districts, and Trump himself lost the White House. For the months that followed – and as recently as this week, at CPAC – Trump and his cronies have maintained that wide-scale election fraud was behind their defeats.

But in state legislatures around the country, Republicans are tackling the real problem: voter accessibility. There are 253 bills before state legislatures that would change everything from early voting periods to voter ID rules.

Consider Georgia, where HB 531 would make it a crime to give a bottle of water to someone waiting in line to vote. Or Idaho, whose bizarre HB 105 interjects that “only…voters who voted in-person on election day and… voters who voted by absentee” because they are in the military or cannot vote in person due to “a physical inability” would count for the purposes of determining the state’s electors, even though that’s far stricter than the law for absentee ballots in the state. Or New Hampshire, where HB 86 would make it illegal for college students to vote in the state.

If all these were enacted, an Idahoan attending the University of New Hampshire simply couldn’t vote without flying back home. But that would still be better than being in Georgia, where you’d straight-up just die waiting in the 10-hour long voting lines, unable to get food or water.

Notice how these laws aren’t about the election fraud that Republicans keep insisting happens. After all, if ballot counters in Michigan were secretly throwing away Trump votes, wouldn’t a law mandating that Republicans could oversee the counting be – oh, that already exists, and Trump campaign officials were allowed to supervise counting in Michigan? Okay, well, if election machines were intentionally miscounting votes, what about a law that would – oh, that wasn’t happening? Hmm.

See, Republicans know that. They’ve always known. They knew Trump lost, they knew they lost, and they knew it wasn’t because of irregularities but because open, free, and fair elections are a huge disadvantage for the Republican Party.

“I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Paul Weyrich (1942-2008)

Republican strategists have made voter suppression a key tool in their arsenal. The more restrictive the voting laws, the less likely working class voters – especially voters of color – are to show up and cast a ballot, if they even are allowed to in the first place. Now, though they profess as ever to be concerned about fraud and misdeeds, they are simply trying to make sure that the Republican nominee in 2024 has the clearest path to the White House as possible.