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The trappings of democracy by @BloggersRUs

The trappings of democracy

by Tom Sullivan

When states pass voting restrictions, the burden of providing additional proof of one's identity at the polls falls disproportionately on women. Political analysis typically highlights the attack on the franchise of minorities, students, and seniors. Missing the targeting of women is perhaps a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.

One prominent woman facing personal impact from Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's repeated efforts to quash phantom voter fraud in his state is Stacey Abrams. She would be the first black woman elected governor in the United States if she can defeat her Republican opponent in her race for Georgia governor, Brian Kemp.

That may depend, writes Michelle Goldberg, on whether Kemp allows Abrams's supporters vote. (No, that's not a joke.) Four years ago, Kemp warned Republican colleagues Abrams's New Georgia Project was "registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.” Can't have that, now, can we?

The Associated Press reports Kemp has cancelled "over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Nearly 670,000 registrations were cancelled in 2017 alone." Another 53,000 registrations are on hold in his office with his and Abrams's contest looming.

Goldberg continues:

In part, this is because of an “exact match” voter verification program that Georgia’s Republican-controlled government enacted last year, which flags registrations that have even minor discrepancies with official records, like a dropped hyphen in a last name. The A.P. reported that almost 70 percent of the registrations that are now on hold are for African-American voters. (Kemp has blamed sloppy work by the New Georgia Project for the holds. His office told The A.P. that voters whose registrations are in limbo can cast provisional ballots.)

Kemp’s apparent attempt to rig the Georgia election shows in microcosm how democracy in America is failing. Part of the reason this country is sliding into minority rule is structural — the Senate and the Electoral College both give disproportionate power to white rural voters. But the right is also gaming the system to try to stop changing demographics from changing the country's balance of political power.

On Thursday, a coalition of civil rights groups sued the secretary of state, demanding cancellation of Kemp's "exact match" program. They allege the law serves no legitimate purpose and illegally targets minority voters.

Instead of debating Republican talking points on the merits of implementing ID laws and other so-called voting integrity measures, the press is finally labeling them for what they are: bald-faced efforts to rig elections. Making that easier, in their brazenness Republican officials themselves (Kemp excluded) have all but dropped any pretense they are anything else.

Asserting Kemp's "exact match" registration system violates the federal ban on racial discrimination, voting rights groups filed another lawsuit against Kemp in 2016. The Georgia legislature responded in 2017 by codifying parts of the system in state law. North Carolina voters recognize the approach. A version of North Carolina's voter ID law overturned by a federal court for targeting "African Americans with almost surgical precision” is on the ballot November 6 as a constitutional amendment.

If they cannot win democratically, Republicans "will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy," David Frum wrote in the Atlantic. But they will hold onto the trappings of democracy so long as they lend them a modicum of public legitimacy. Until like boasting about principles and morality, they no longer care about keeping up pretenses.

The past few weeks on Capitol Hellmouth have demonstrated the old, white men in power around the country have no intention of sharing it with anyone of any race or gender not their own. What the targets of voter suppression — women, in particular — ought to know is the only way to correct this injustice is by taking it from them at the ballot box while they still can. Vote November 6 if you cannot do it sooner.

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