Republican voting initiative troubling but not surprising


(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

The Republican National Committee announced in May that it would spend at least $20 million fighting what it sees as Democratic efforts to stuff the ballot box.

That’s twice what the party announced in February it was planning to spend.

The New York Times reported the party had filed or intervened in 19 lawsuits as of July 7.

In an interview with Fox News, RNC chair Rona McDaniel accused Democrats of sending millions of ballots to addresses where the residents have moved away or died.

“So there’s absolutely room for fraud,” she said. “I think it’s common sense there could be fraud with millions of live ballots out there.”

Fanning the controversy is President Donald J. Trump. At a Fox News town hall last month, the president described mail-in ballots as “the biggest risk we have” in this election.

“Your absentee, it’s OK, but people go through a process for that,” he said. “It’s really pretty good. But the mail-in ballots, they mail them to anybody, and they send them out by the millions.”

Just for the record, there is no such distinction between an absentee ballot and a mail-in ballot. People all over the country vote by mail routinely. Military personnel stationed overseas vote by mail. College students vote by mail.

The president and first lady vote by mail. In the recent primary, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, voted absentee using their former address, the Indiana governor’s mansion, a place they haven’t lived in more than three years.

Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado, Utah and Washington vote entirely by mail in every election.

Michael Waldman, president of the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice, told Fox News he was surprised that voting by mail had become a partisan issue.

“Republicans use it; Democrats use it,” he said. “It doesn’t really benefit one party or another. What’s baffling to me is why President Trump is yelling about vote-by-mail when we need to hold a safe election in the middle of a pandemic.”

Of course, Waldman really shouldn’t have been surprised by the concerns voiced by the president and his fellow Republicans. Just ask Xochitl Hinojosa, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee.

“They try and cry voter fraud every single year on every single issue because they don’t want people to go out and vote,” she told Fox News.

The rationale is simple: The lower the turnout, the higher the likelihood that Republicans will win.

That the party is doubling down on its efforts now, in the midst of a pandemic, is particularly troubling. But it’s far from surprising.

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