So Now They’re Trying To Figure Out Ways To Limit Those, Even Though Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Of Expanded Voting Options Even In Red States
We’ve been working on a story about Republicans waging an all-out assault on early voting and mail-in voting between now and the 2020 election. (And we still plan to bring you that full story in the coming days). That’s after Republicans were caught by surprise in this year’s Midterm Elections, particularly by the massive number of mail-in votes coming from younger voters and Democrats. Previously, mail-in votes had been the bailiwick of older voters, who tended to skew Republican. So Republicans didn’t pay much attention to them. This time around, it turned out, to their own detriment.
A lot of what Republicans will argue in proposing and passing more restrictive laws at the state level is with mail-in voting, there’s a lot of room for voter fraud. (Governorships were flipped in some key swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin, so the effects there may be limited. But Florida, Georgia, Texas and several others are still solidly Republican and they’re not going to be shy about making changes to benefit themselves and President Trump when he comes up for re-election).
And some Republicans are pointing at a tainted U.S. House race in North Carolina that you may already have heard about, and could result in a rare complete re-do. What happened there essentially, is that political operatives, who the tentative Republican winner, Mark Harris, ultimately may or may not have known about, went around and collected mail-in ballots from voters and promised to send them in for them. Except no one really knows what happened to those ballots. In most cases the ballot collectors targeted older voters in neighborhoods that tended to swing Democrat. (Although Harris’ Republican primary opponent has been protesting for months that the exact same thing happened to him.)
We’re bringing this up today for two reasons:
- This is not an example of “voter fraud” and should not be treated as such. The voters in these cases did not commit any fraud. As Rick Hasen points out in electionlawblog: “this case involves election crimes not done by voters” (our emphasis).
- While collecting ballots is illegal in North Carolina, guess where it isn’t illegal? Florida. As the Tampa Bay Times points out. And that does beg for some legislative reform. Trouble is, given the state’s shifting demographics and narrow recent wins by Republicans in races for U.S. Senate and Governor, that reform could be twisted into something far more extensive than rectifying a situation where con artists can lift ballots from unsuspecting voters while barely breaking the law. More likely, it gives legislators much more cover to pursue a much broader, much more targeted effort to disenfranchise specific voters. Not that they wouldn’t try it anyway.
The broader story here isn’t going away, and is something we’re going to focus on hard.