Opinion: Republicans are making it harder for Americans to vote | Columnists


The vital mechanism of a functioning democracy is that the people choose their leaders. After losing the 2020 presidential election, Republicans challenged the polls in 60 lawsuits, each failing.

Instead, they opted for a different approach once practiced by Joseph Stalin. They make sure to make the choice. Instead of reassessing their positions and message to attract more voters, they doubled down on misinformation that the election was stolen and attacking the franchise was their response.

Since the Supreme Court limited voting rights in the Shelby County case, Republicans have introduced more than 425 bills in 49 states, including Montana, making it harder for millions of Americans to vote. For example, discriminatory purges of voter lists, invalidation of postal ballots, purge of voter lists. In Georgia, it is a criminal offense to give water or snacks to people waiting in line to vote. In Iowa and Kansas, it is a criminal offense to return the ballots of people who need help. To vote in Florida, people who have been in jail must pay for food/lodging in jail before voting – a modern poll tax. In Michigan, it is a criminal offense for election officials to encourage people to mail ballots. They are decimating ballot boxes in urban areas or banning them altogether on Election Day, when they are most needed.

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Because of the 2020 census, Republicans have trashed districts to give them an unfair advantage. They drew the electoral districts to choose their voters – not the voters who chose them. For example, Jim Jordan’s district in Ohio resembles the silhouette of an upside-down half-moon that divides cities to ensure re-election. He can’t lose. So the Republican Party’s response to record turnout in 2020 is to make sure it never happens again.

Additionally, Republicans are replacing secretaries of state who certify election results with supporters willing to reverse a state’s election total if the results aren’t what they want. There are no Republicans, including Senator Daines and Congressman Rosendale, who support strengthening the franchise. When a voting rights bill comes to the Senate, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans block all votes to help voters use a filibuster.

And for the record, the filibuster is an antiquated Senate rule devised by segregationists in the 1950s and 60s to prevent the passage of a civil rights bill. But Republicans have repeatedly ignored the filibuster to nominate Supreme Court justices or block President Obama from selecting a judge or passing Trump’s tax cut to help the wealthy. Voting rights experts agree that these Republican voter suppression laws are the biggest attack on our democracy since Jim Crow. According to David Pepper in Laboratories of Autocracy, these laws make it harder for seniors, people of color and inner-city residents to vote.

These laws do not improve voting in their respective states, but help one party, the Republicans. These efforts are not aimed at fair elections but at winning elections. Due to voter suppression laws, the election of partisan state officials to nullify election results, and partisan gerrymandering, Republicans could retake the House and Senate without getting a single vote.

They gave up the right to free and fair elections — the foundation of our democracy; instead, they follow Joseph Stalin’s formula that people who vote choose nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.

David James of Eureka is a retired professor of history and political science.

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