GOP's mission to deny voters their voice reaching dangerous extremes – Las Vegas Sun

October 6, 2021
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Ross D. Franklin / AP
Rep. Shawnna Bolick, R-Phoenix, is sworn in during the opening of the Arizona Legislature at the state Capitol Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Phoenix.
Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 | 2 a.m.
Increasingly, the leadership of the Republican Party isn’t bothering to hide its intent to rob Americans of their right to vote.
For proof, look no further than Arizona, home of a new bill that would allow the state Legislature to overturn the popular vote in presidential elections.
You read that right: House Bill 2070, sponsored by a GOP Rep. Shawnna Bolick of Phoenix, would empower lawmakers to negate the votes of Arizonans and instead choose their own presidential electors. Had the measure been enacted before the 2020 election, it would have allowed lawmakers to pick electors for Donald Trump even though Joe Biden won by more than 11,000 votes.
To understand how that eliminates the voting power of Arizonans, first know that presidential elections aren’t determined based on the popular vote itself but rather on votes from the Electoral College, whose electors are chosen by lawmakers. In many states, legislators are required by statute to choose electors based on the outcome of the popular vote, or at least are expected to do so based on longstanding traditions and political pressures. But Bolick’s bill would expressly give Arizona legislators the final say in complete disregard of the popular vote.
What’s more, lawmakers could usurp the vote even if the count were formally certified by the governor and secretary of state. And under provisions making it easier to legally challenge the outcome, the Legislature could strike down the vote even after Congress counted the state’s electors.
The long and short of it is that the power to elect a president would no longer lie in the hands of Arizona voters, but with the party controlling the Legislature. And right now, that’s the GOP.
Say this for Bolick: At least she’s cutting to the chase. After years of voter suppression efforts by Republicans across the country, which were couched as election security measures, Bolick is openly revealing the true intent of a dominant group within the GOP.
She might as well have called the bill the Death to Democracy Act of 2021. Arizona’s secretary of state reacted to it by questioning why the Legislature doesn’t simply get rid of the presidential election altogether. It’s a legitimate question when the clear aim of this and other GOP moves across the country clearly is an assault on democracy. As long as they win, they’re “patriots”; when they lose they want to shatter our system of government.
Bolick’s bill isn’t the only legislation aimed at disempowering Arizona voters, either. Her GOP colleagues have introduced dozens of similar bills, including one to end mail-in balloting by requiring mailed ballots to be returned in person, one requiring voters to sign mail-in ballots in the presence of a notary, and one to drastically reduce the number of voting centers.
Of course, this is partly based on Trump’s false claims of massive voter fraud, which have served as rocket fuel for the GOP’s voter suppression efforts. In a larger sense, Trump’s caterwauling was not new. This is latest chapter a decades-long GOP project to cement Republican minority rule by denying others — especially people of color — the right to vote.
This is repulsive, because the outcome of the vote in Arizona revealed Trump’s big lie: Yes, he lost to Biden, but voters reelected all four Republican U.S. House candidates and gave the GOP control of both chambers of the Legislature. If there had been a sweeping conspiracy against Trump and the Republicans, why did GOP down-ballot candidates do so well?
But despite similar outcomes elsewhere and the complete failure of the Trump campaign to convince courts of fraud, look for many more voter suppression or nullification bills to advance in statehouses across the country.
Fortunately, despite the disgusting anti-democracy efforts of former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt in the post-election period, this won’t be the case in Carson City. Nevada lawmakers have gone the other direction in recent years, making voting safer and more convenient for Nevadans by expanding mail-in balloting and early voting. Registration became easier too, with the passage of a 2018 ballot question establishing automatic voter registration for Nevadans when they renew their driver’s license, apply for one or do other business with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
And at the local level, Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria and his team have done wonders for voters by embracing mail-in voting, early voting, etc.
We understand that the solution to any problem with democracy is always more democracy.
With no valid evidence of significant fraud in Nevada, lawmakers went into the 2021 legislative session Monday focused on real problems in our state and not the GOP’s manufactured one. While bills tied to Trump’s fake claims may pop up, don’t look for them to go anywhere.
That said, the GOP’s assault on democracy isn’t some faraway threat. The fact that the party’s leadership has kicked into overdrive on Trump’s lies at both the state and congressional levels, where most Republicans refused to break ranks with Trump even after the Capitol riot, only emboldens the violent extremists who would overthrow democracy. In turn, that puts our election officials here in Nevada at risk, as we saw when armed crowds turned out at the county’s election offices to threaten and intimidate officials in the aftermath of the 2020 count.
We implore the many reasonable Republicans in the party’s ranks to denounce this escalating assault on democracy and instead support candidates who would protect the right to vote. What’s happening in Arizona can’t be allowed to germinate and spread.
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