The GOP’s Anti-Democratic Crusade

Zoe Mello Zdraveski, Contributing Writer

The Republican Party suffered several major losses in 2020, from the presidential election to the two Georgia runoffs that defined the Senate majority. It seems the party is now determined to restrict the ease of casting a ballot in the United States through any means necessary, all the while systematically targeting Black voters who were instrumental to Biden’s electoral victory. They are attempting to effectively suppress their way to success.

In Michigan, the Grand Old Party (GOP) went so far as to single out Detroit, a city with a significant population of Black Democratic voters, and threaten to refuse to certify its votes. The GOP’s entire post-election strategy proved to be a relentless promotion of disenfranchisement. Bertrall Ross, the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law, said of the election back in 2020 that, “What we’re seeing in the campaign now is the same voter suppression practices we have seen historically to target African Americans and other people of color. But this time, those who promote voter suppression will have the pandemic as both a justification for voter suppression practices and a tool to support the practices.” On January 6th of this year, 147 Republican lawmakers attempted to completely overturn the election results under the pretense of questioning the security of mail-in ballots, a theory that has been debunked by trusted news sources on countless occasions. This deliberate misinformation campaign resulted in the violent insurrection at the Capitol.

The Brennan Center for Justice reports that compared to the same period of time last year, state legislatures have already prepared three times as many voter restriction bills: “Twenty-eight states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 106 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020).” Fourteen new restrictions were put forth in Pennsylvania. New Hampshire’s legislature has put forward ten, and the state of Missouri has nine voter suppression bills circulating. Eleven are on the docket in Georgia, indicative of the Republican Party’s efforts to make its way back to being a red state after the Democrats took those two Senate runoffs seats and the presidential election there. 

The new Election Integrity Act in Georgia bans anyone except poll workers to provide food or water to voters in line in a clear effort to discourage those looking to cast a ballot.

The new Election Integrity Act in Georgia bans anyone except poll workers to provide food or water to voters in line in a clear effort to discourage those looking to cast a ballot. President Biden, in a statement issued by the White House, called the law “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

Of course, these strategies aren’t new: coded bills surrounding absentee voting restrictions, voter ID laws, and the disenfranchisement of those who were incarcerated have historically been utilized to systemically suppress Black Americans’ participation in elections. According to an audio recording of a private event, one of Donald Trump’s primary re-election advisors even explicitly told influential Republicans in the battleground state of Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on suppression of democracy to compete in swing states. However, their efforts are becoming increasingly brazen, exemplified in the manner that Republican legislatures doubled down on their assault against mail-in voting and even the United States Postal Service (USPS), willfully feeding Trump supporters propaganda that resulted in an attempted coup at the Capitol.

The GOP doesn’t succeed in every one of their efforts, but they don’t have to. Despite Joe Biden beating Trump by over 7 million votes nationwide, his margin of victory in the Electoral College came down to just 43,000 votes across three states; those are votes the Democratic party can’t afford to lose. 

The party must look to the exemplary work on the ground by organizers such as Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight, an organization which raised tens of millions of dollars for voter education and pursued advocacy and litigation efforts that put thousands of Georgians in the voting booth. These years of work paid off hugely for Democrats in the 2020 election; Georgia flipped blue for the first time in nearly 30 years, handing Democrats control of the Senate. Congressional Democrats must match Abrams’ tenacity and drive home exactly how the GOP is infringing on voting rights in an effort to enfranchise and mobilize the public, as well as put pressure on local legislators. Our nation’s fragile democracy is counting on them.