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Saturday, December 25, 2021

Report shows the extent of Republican efforts to sabotage democracy | US voting rights | The Guardian

Report shows the extent of Republican efforts to sabotage democracy

Research identifies at least 262 bills were introduced in 41 states this year with the intent to hijack the election process

Supporters with American flags hold a sign that reads, "Stop election fraud!!!" at a Stop the Steal rally on 14 November 2020.
Bills intended to subvert the election process have been concentrated in states that became the focus of Donald Trump’s Stop the Steal campaign. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/AP

"The Republican assault on free and fair elections instigated by Donald Trump is gathering pace, with efforts to sabotage the normal workings of American democracy sweeping state legislatures across the US.

A year that began with the violent insurrection at the US Capitol is ending with an unprecedented push to politicize, criminalize or in other ways subvert the nonpartisan administration of elections. A year-end report from pro-democracy groups identifies no fewer than 262 bills introduced in 41 states that hijack the election process.

Of those, 32 bills have become law in 17 states.

The largest number of bills is concentrated in precisely those states that became the focus of Trump’s Stop the Steal campaign to block the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. Arizona, where Trump supporters insisted on an “audit” to challenge Biden’s victory in the state, has introduced 20 subversion bills, and Georgia where Trump attempted to browbeat the top election official to find extra votes for him has introduced 15 bills.

Texas, whose ultra-right Republican group has made the state the ground zero of voter suppression and election interference, has introduced as many as 59 bills.

“We’re seeing an effort to hijack elections in this country, and ultimately, to take power away from the American people. If we don’t want politicians deciding our elections, we all need to start paying attention,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center which is one of the three groups behind the report. Protect Democracy and Law Forward also participated.

One of the key ways that Trump-inspired state lawmakers have tried to sabotage future elections is by changing the rules to give legislatures control over vote counts. In Pennsylvania, a bill passed in the wake of Trump’s defeat that sought to rewrite the state’s election law was vetoed by Democratic governor Tom Wolf.

Now hard-right lawmakers are trying to bypass Wolf’s veto power by proposing a constitutional amendment that would give the legislature the power to overrule the state’s chief elections officer and create a permanent audit of election counts subject to its own will.

In several states, nonpartisan election officials who for years have administered ballots impartially are being replaced by hyper-partisan conspiracy theorists and advocates of Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged. In Michigan, county Republican groups in eight of the 11 largest counties have systematically replaced professional administration officials with “stop the steal” extremists.

Several secretaries of state, the top election officials responsible for presidential election counts, are being challenged by extreme Republicans who participated in trying to overturn the 2020 result. Trump has endorsed for the role Mark Finchem in Arizona, Jody Hice in Georgia and Kristina Karamo in Michigan who have all claimed falsely that Trump won and should now be in his second term in the White House.

Jess Marsden, Counsel at Protect Democracy, said that the nationwide trend of state legislatures attempting to interfere with the work of nonpartisan election officials was gaining momentum. “It’s leading us down an anti-democratic path toward an election crisis,” she said."

Report shows the extent of Republican efforts to sabotage democracy | US voting rights | The Guardian

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