I know the over-simplistic view both parties have when it comes to voting. Republicans do not want to make voting easier. They believe the less motivated voters are more likely to vote for Democrats. Democrats on the other hand want to make voting easier because they believe voters who often do not show up to the polls would favor their candidates.
Republicans think any effort to make voting easier opens the door to fraud. While that is true, actual cases of voting fraud are rare, and certainly not widespread. Democrats, on the other hand, oppose reasonable ballot security measures like photo ID requirements and purges from the voter registration rolls of people who have not voted for years, undoubtedly because they had died or moved.. When I worked as a precinct committeemen, I would see the first hand the list of my neighbors eligible to vote in the precinct. I would estimate maybe 10% to 20% on the list of eligible voters were people who had passed away or moved.
|Wisconsin Speaker Robin Vos |
on his way to work the polls
The election that took place last Tuesday in Wisconsin though was an example of real Republican voter suppression. Although billed as a "primary," it was actually a general election for some races including a hotly contested election for a Supreme Court justice position. Republicans who control both houses of the Wisconsin legislature, refused to change the law to allow a delay of the election despite the fact that Wisconsinites were subject to a mandatory stay-at-home order. Initially the Democratic Governor said he had no legal authority to delay the election, absent legislative action, then at the last minute tried to do exactly that. Courts ultimately found the Governor had acted without authority and allowed the election to take place, a decision that the United States Supreme Court refused to reverse on a 5-4 vote.
Although I have not yet read the decision, I'm inclined to agree with the outcome. The purpose of the courts is to interpret and rule on the law, not to act when legislative bodies refuse to pass a "good" law.
The result of the decision was that only five voting locations in heavily Democratic Milwaukee were open on election day and voters who had to cast a ballot had to violate the stay-at-home order and risk their lives. No doubt turnout in the state's urban (i.e. Democratic) areas was dramatically lower which should no doubt help the Republican Supreme Court candidate.
It was such a foolish, short-sighted decision to hold the election. No doubt the move will probably help the GOP candidate win the Supreme Court seat. But what will the consequences be long-term for the Wisconsin GOP that insisted that voters risk their health, even their lives, by holding the election in the midst of a pandemic? Robin Vos, the Republican Speaker, defended the legislature's refusal to delay the election by insisting that it was "incredibly safe to go out" to vote. Then he showed up to volunteer a the polls wearing full hazmat gear. Apparently Vos and his fellow Republicans think Wisconsin voters are really stupid. My guess though is Wisconsin voters are going to remember the election in which Republicans insisted voters risk their lives to vote and the GOP is going to pay a price for that.
Wisconsin should be a wake-up call for Republicans considering how voters can cast ballots in the general election. The concerns over Covid-19 might still be present come November, either because we're still in the first wave of the pandemic or are concerned about a second wave. No doubt, health concerns could cause a substantial decrease in voter turnout.
I know, according to the playbook, lower turnout generally favors Republicans. That though is an oversimplification and it does not apply to the current situation Older voters tend to be more supportive of Republican candidates, and especially President Trump, than younger voters. The Covid-19 pandemic though hits older voters hardest If older voters are afraid to go to the polls and cannot vote by mail, that hurts Trump and other Republicans.
Republicans should compromise with Democrats and support mail-in voting for the November 2020 general election. The negative, i.e. the possibility of increased voter fraud, doesn't begin to outweigh the positive, i.e. ensuring that older people, who are more inclined to support Republicans, be able to vote.