We’ll Say This Again: Voting Is A Right, Not A “Good Citizen” Test

Yet some Republicans have even stopped pretending to differentiate between fraud, and just people who don’t normally vote deciding to vote…

Lots of new or infrequent voters deciding to vote is absolutely a large part of the reason Trump lost. Proof of that is in the record number of ballots that were cast in the Presidential election for both candidates. Except 7,059,782 more for Biden. Which is not fraud. The farthest thing from it. It’s just people deciding to vote, or not, which they have the right to do, even if they’ve never felt compelled to vote before, or for a while, provided they are citizens and legally meet the requirements to register and vote based on the rules in whichever state they may reside. Based on whatever rules those states set up. Doesn’t make them any better or worse than any other voter.

Yet Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, for instance, said this, just this week, in relation to the upcoming double U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia:

I’m very, very concerned that if you solicit votes from typically non-voters, that you will affect and change the outcome.”

Yes. So what? That’s only a problem if you consider those “typical” non-voters to be not really “real” U.S. citizens.

Which echoes a tweet from Clinton-era Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who nowadays is just kind of an unofficial/official Trump booster:

Why is Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger working so hard to add drop boxes and take other steps to make it harder for Republicans to win?”

So in other words, if you show up at the polls every single election, big and small, and cast your ballot faithfully, that makes you a better American; a better citizen, than someone who just decides to vote in a particular election because of the stakes involved. 

And so, the votes of those more dedicated, faithful voters should count for more. And the votes of those of occasional, or first-time voters driven by the importance of a specific election should be considered tantamount to fraudulent. Because those aren’t “real” Patriots.

Thing is, doesn’t matter.

If you want that, then pass a law requiring everyone to vote. See how you do then.

Still, many Republicans argue with a straight face that the votes of people who show up regularly in person and vote often should carry more weight in any given election than those who don’t vote a lot and may choose to vote mail-in. And that’s a valid excuse for steering and weighting elections toward the former group. Deliberately setting up a system that works that way is fraudulent in itself, and led to the Voting Rights Act, except the Supreme Court decided lots of that law is no longer needed, and the Republican controlled Senate agreed, so here we are…

How do we know that’s the case? Because every time we write a story like this, we get so many impassioned responses from faithful voters asserting that their unwavering commitment to Democracy by showing up at the voting booth time after time, should absolutely actually count for me than occasional voters in whatever state.

A big part of why Texas has been out crowing and suing in the Supreme Court, is it worked real hard to eliminate the votes of voters who were not willing or able to work real hard to vote in the last Presidential election. And it paid off: Trump won Texas, which wasn’t exactly a swing state, but Trump almost definitely racked up more votes there than if that state’s government had made it easier for less zealous voters to vote. 

Purely anecdotally, and we’ve talked about this before, we personally know a couple of people in Texas who didn’t vote in the Presidential election at all this year, because it seemed like too much of an effort, and they didn’t really comprehend how whether Biden or Trump was President would have any impact on their everyday lives. However, if they could’ve voted by mail, they would’ve. And they would’ve voted for Biden.

And Texas worked very hard even in the face of COVID-19 to refuse to expand alternate ways to vote: for instance, mail-in voting, which was restricted to people 65 years old and up, and those who were truly infirm, or truly not in county on Election Day. (And in that last instance, they added degrees of difficulty that made it hard for many people to vote anyway, even if they were legitimately out of state on Election Day.) And they went to court and blocked a measure that would’ve made fear of contracting COVID-19 an acceptable excuse for requesting an absentee ballot. Further, they addressed the issue of doubts about the Postal Service delivering those few legit mail-in ballots on time, by limiting the number of non-postal drop boxes to 1 per county. And while Texas has a huge number of counties compared to most states, it also has a number of huge counties. About the only thing Texas’ governor did do to accommodate concern about the safety of in-person voting was add a couple of extra days of early in-person voting.

So no wonder Republicans in Texas are bragging on their outcome vs. other states. Even though their absurd Supreme Court lawsuit, which was tossed, didn’t succeed. Their methods will be looked to as the basis of plenty of legislation and future lawsuits regarding who gets to vote and how.

In fact, there’s going to be just a ton of legislation and lawsuits in this area in the next couple of years, and the Supreme Court will absolutely weigh in at some point. (Prior to this year’s election, the Supreme Court was pretty consistent about upholding rules about voting made by state legislatures, but blocking rules made by state courts. But this was an unusual year.)

And not in all, but in some cases, the reason Trump’s lawsuits failed, did not have to do exclusively with lack of standing or egregious lack of evidence, but because Trump’s lawyers were asking for changes in laws or rules they knew about long before Election Day, and didn’t care anything about until they lost, when they had plenty of time to challenge before the voting started. In some instances, like in Pennsylvania, Republicans sued to invalidate laws that they themselves had passed

As a Republican State Supreme Court Judge in Wisconsin wrote in deciding a case there:

Our laws allow the challenge flag to be thrown regarding various aspects of election administration. The challenges raised by the Campaign in this case, however,come long after the last play or even the last game; the Campaign is challenging the rulebook adopted before the season began. Election claims of this type must be brought expeditiously. The Campaign waited until after the election to raise selective challenges that could have been raised long before the election.”

Yet this Republican viewpoint that occasional voters’ votes should somehow count for less, be freely invalidated based on where or how they were cast, or not even be allowed to be cast, is also what’s behind Trump’s continued allegations that a lot of fishy stuff was going on in large cities where he lost by a lot. Because a lot of people who didn’t normally vote registered, and then came out to vote, or sent in votes against him. And somehow, that means to some, their votes shouldn’t count as much. If at all… It’s like Republican Senator Josh Hawley repeatedly passing along stories about how his constituents feel cheated because they’d been told repeatedly the election would be fair only if their candidate won, and “rigged” if their candidate lost. Which is, again, an expression of emotion, maybe, but not fact, or evidence of fraud. Yet it’s being conflated with fraud.

Or in some cases not even: we watched Fox for a little while the other day. About as much as we could stomach. And there was quite a bit of anger on display, but also a lot about how we should feel sorry for Trump because he campaigned really hard. And maybe he deserves some kind of reward even just for that. To which we say: by all means give him a participation trophy if that’s what you want to do. Although we thought you hate that kind of PC stuff. (We do too.) And we understand you’re disappointed Trump didn’t win. Even though we are a bit surprised you’re totally O.K. with his behavior following his loss. And anyway, none of that means your feelings get him a win.

What’s happening now, and what will continue to happen in legislatures and in the courts in the next year or so, will provide a blueprint for voting rules in many states for years to come, especially since Republicans control so many state legislatures. Making it harder, not easier to vote. Mail-in voting is hardly a “space age” concept, and by definition, there’s almost more of a paper trail than when you show up in person to vote. It’s also much easier for people who might have to work or something like that, and just might run out of time to physically present themselves at a polling place. And yes, it also makes it much easier for people who but for the ease of mail-in voting might not otherwise vote. But doesn’t mean they’re less entitled to. Except now, soon, Republicans will see to it that it does.