“This is some banana republic stuff” by @BloggersRUs

"This is some banana republic stuff"

by Tom Sullivan

Ah, the good old days of post-racism. With Barack Obama in the White House and Eric Holder as Attorney General, the T-party and conservative pundits I-de-clared racism was a thing of the past. Liberals who suggested it was not were the real racists. The Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in Shelby v. Holder himself declared times had changed and the preclearance section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act had outlived its usefulness. Vote suppression laws spread through the land. Donald Trump rode white fear and a minority of the national vote into the White House where he spent his first two years vilifying and scapegoating minorities and immigrants.

And so in the fullness of time did the good people of Georgia last week receive a racist robocall from white supremacists. "This is the magical negro, Oprah Winfrey, asking you to make my fellow negress, Stacey Abrams, the governor of Georgia," and so on. This same group last month targeted Andrew Gillum, another black Democrat running for governor in Florida.

So also did attempts by Republicans to rig elections to maintain their minority rule grow more brazen. Abrams's Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp — whose office administers the state's elections; he refuses to step down — announced Sunday an investigation into the state's Democratic Party for bringing to his attention a potentially serious vulnerability in Georgia's election machinery. He advertised the warning as a "failed hacking attempt" in a banner on his official website.

Election Law Blog's Rick Hasen chronicles this and others of Kemp's misdeeds, calling Kemp's election-eve stunt an "act of political chutzpah by an election official on par with nothing else I’ve seen." Hasen continues, "This is some banana republic stuff." Someone give would-be governor Kemp some mirrored sunglasses, gold braid, and epaulets.

Zachary Roth (The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy) concurs with the Brennan Center for Justice that what is happening in Georgia, Texas, North Dakota, Kansas, New Hampshire, and elsewhere, including a "decade-long assault on voting" North Carolina, represents "the worst voter suppression" of the modern era. Roth writes:

Put bluntly, the central question of politics in the Trump era is how long Republicans can undermine democracy effectively enough to maintain their hold on power. Success this year likely would embolden them to push even further, perhaps by shooting for the voter suppression holy grail: a national voter ID law, and a requirement that those registering to vote show documentary proof of citizenship. If they succeed at that, we could one day look back on this cycle as a relative golden age for voting rights.
Even with polls showing a lot of contested races like Georgia's close, listening to them would be a mistake. Voting and lines were insane on the Saturday, last day of early voting in North Carolina. Those late polls may also have missed this:

Over the last two and a half weeks, I have tracked early voting here by age, waiting for younger voters to exercise the power right in front of them. The curve below likely looks like most other states. Americans under 40 could be running this joint. They could end geriatric-mandering now and gerrymandering later. That blip at the left end of the voting curve (college students) appeared only in the last few days. This is North Carolina only, which does not appear in the striking list above. Nor do young, first-time voters likely in the late tallies of pollsters. There are still some surprises to come Tuesday night. IF. WE. VOTE.

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For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.