“OROur entire democracy is now in jeopardy. “That was the alarm note that sounded last week by a group of prominent intellectuals from both the left and the right. The source of their concern is the Republican efforts, which are being carried out in across the country, to operationalize the “big lie”: the false claim that a vast fraud conspiracy cost Trump the 2020 election.
Consider the recently ordered audit by the Republican-controlled state senate in Arizona of the 2.1 million votes cast in Maricopa County in the 2020 presidential race. So that the audit does not confirm what has already been proven. ad nauseam – that the count was accurate and free of fraud: the Senate chose an unknown company called Cyber Ninjas to perform the count. Based in Florida, Cyber Ninjas have no record of conducting an election audit and not even submitting an offer for the Arizona position. But the small business had something going for it: Its CEO, Doug Logan, a self-proclaimed “follower of Jesus Christ” and a proud father of 11, was officially attacking the 2020 election for being riddled with fraud.
Inspired by the Arizona case, Georgia Republicans have demanded that their state conduct a similar “forensic” audit of the 2020 presidential count. And last Wednesday, a group of Pennsylvania Republican state legislators visited the audit site of Arizona, requiring their home state to conduct a similar review.
The goal of these efforts is not to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election, despite Donald Trump’s fantasies to the contrary. Clearly, the former president anticipates his reinstatement in the White House roughly two months from now, and his upcoming rallies will no doubt give him the opportunity to grandly present himself as a last-day Napoleon triumphantly returning to power from his exile in New York. palm. But the audits are not designed to seal Trump a ticket back to DC, at least not today. The goal is not to oust Biden now, but to plot against his re-election in 2024.
In this, the audits are part of the larger Republican campaigns to disenfranchise large numbers of voters, specifically black voters. The same Arizona Republicans who held back Cyber Ninjas recently passed a law that drastically restricts the distribution of mail-in ballots. Republicans in Georgia have passed a radical law that limits the use of mailboxes and criminalizes the simple act of offering water to citizens caught in long voting lines. And Texas Republicans are about to pass the most restrictive law of all – one that would restrict absentee ballots and ban direct voting altogether. Dozens of other states with Republican-controlled legislatures are rushing to pass similar measures.
It’s true that suppressing the black vote has been a staple of Republican politics for decades. But what distinguishes these new laws is both their scope and the cynicism of their justification. Because it is one thing to use the specter of possible fraud to justify such measures; another, to operationalize a lie about history to justify restrictions in the name of electoral integrity.
In fact, perhaps the most disturbing aspect of these new laws is that they lower the bar for partisans to question and alter election results. In Georgia, for example, the new law prohibits the secretary of state from certifying results, a move designed to target Brad Raffensperger, the fearless Republican who rejected Trump’s demand that the secretary “find” enough votes to overcome Biden’s victory. in the Peach state. And in Texas, supporters would no longer need to show that inappropriate votes had materially affected the outcome of an election to seek to reverse the results.
In the words of the bipartisan group, thanks to these changes, “several states … no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections.” Here I must add: that is precisely what the Republicans want. Fair elections carry uncertainty, and Republican lawmakers want none of that. They no longer trust the democratic process, not because they genuinely believe it is corrupt, but because they legitimately fear that they cannot win fairly. And so, in good Orwellian fashion, they work to create the highly manipulated system of which they falsely claim to be victims. If their efforts to systematically restrict the voting opportunities of millions of citizens fail to secure the White House in 2024, they will have the mechanisms in place that Trump invoked but could not fully control in 2020. If the Republicans have their way, in In 2024, Trump or his crude successor will not have a Brad Raffensperger standing in their way.
Lawrence Douglas is the most recent author of Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown at 2o2o and also serves as an opinion writer for The Guardian US. Teaches at Amherst College
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism