Republican officials and candidates want the votes of American citizens so much they are pushing to disqualify thousands of mail ballots in at least three battleground states.
Critics are calling the strategy a concerted attempt at partisan voter suppression, which follows Republican efforts to make it more difficult for some people to register and design voting districts likely to produce partisan results but comes after the GOP urged their partisan supporters to vote on Election Day.
Thousands of mail ballots have been set aside in Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court agreed that election officials should not count ballots on which the voter neglected to put a date on the outer envelope — even in cases when the ballots arrive before Election Day.
The Republican National Committee brought that legal action hoping to deny a voice to enough Pennsylvania citizens to swing what appear to be several close races, including governor and US senator.
Republican Michigan secretary of state candidate Kristina Karamo filed a lawsuit seeking to disqualify absentee ballots and instead require voters to vote in person on Nov. 8 but only in the city of Detroit, a heavily Democratic, majority-Black city.
A Wayne County judge on dismissed Karamo’s lawsuit, saying the suit “failed dramatically,” and that the claims made by Karamo were “unsubstantiated and/or misinterpret Michigan election law.”
“Plaintiffs have raised a false flag of election law violations and corruption concerning Detroit’s procedures for the November 8th election. This Court’s ruling takes down that flag,” according to the Wayne County circuit court ruling.
A Wisconsin judge on rejected an attempt to allow absentee ballots containing incomplete addresses to be counted. After the Wisconsin Elections Commission said that an address must include three elements: a street number, street name and municipality, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin sued seeking a ruling that an address would only be considered missing when the entire field is left blank.
Over the past two years, Republicans have waged a sustained campaign against alleged voter fraud.
Experts say the litigation — which could significantly affect Tuesday’s vote — represents a parallel strategy of suing to disqualify mail ballots based on technicalities.
While the rejections may have some basis in state law, experts say they appear to go against the principle, enshrined in federal law, of not disenfranchising voters for minor errors.
The lawsuits coincide with a systematic attempt by Republicans — led by former president Donald Trump — to persuade GOP voters to cast their ballots only on Election Day.
Critics argue that the overall purpose is to separate Republicans and Democrats by method of voting and then to use lawsuits to void mail ballots that are disproportionately Democratic.
“Voter suppression is racism in action, and the Republican Party is counting on it to win in November,” said Democratic strategist James Devine. “It will be harder for certain people to vote this year because Republican-controlled legislatures in 20 states enacted 56 new voting restrictions in the wake of the 2020 election, which was confirmed as the most secure in our nation’s history.”
“Republican election integrity is a code word for cheating,” said Devine. “The claim that these laws will prevent voter fraud is bogus, since countless studies have shown that there is no significant voter fraud in America. Voter fraud is a lie told for ulterior motives, from its origins in 19th Century Jim Crow laws meant to marginalize African Americans by denying them the right to vote, to the ‘Big Lie‘ that the 2020 election was stolen.”
When voters go to ballot drop boxes in Berks County, Pennsylvania, they’re greeted by sheriff’s deputies who question them. It’s a new policy by the county that has civil rights organizations concerned — but it’s just one example of law enforcement becoming involved in elections across the country, in the name of “voter integrity.”
That is not as bad as it is in some places in Arizona, where armed vigilante groups are loitering around ballot drop boxes, intimidating voters who have a right to deliver their votes without fear of being accosted, but it is still wrong.
Citizens do not have to answer questions asked by law enforcement officers, because of the constitutional right to remain silent. In general, you do not have to talk to law enforcement officers (or anyone else), even if you do not feel free to walk away from the officer, you are arrested, or you are in jail. You cannot be punished for refusing to answer a question.
Voters should not feel they have to answer questions in order to use a public facility as it waws intended, especially since Republicans are eager to count all legal ballots except those cast by voters who might prefer the Democrats.