The real voter suppression
To listen to politicians on the right, there’s an immediate need for tough, new “ballot security” measures to stop/prevent what some of them insist is widespread voter fraud. A big source of worry: the many laws Democratic lawmakers passed in the depths of the pandemic to make voting somewhat easier, and supposedly safer.
So what’s the bottom line on measures that made voting somewhat easier in 2020? According to Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz, not much. And new laws and regulations to make voting less convenient probably won’t make a difference, either. And we can thank the American voter for both:
Both voter turnout and voting decisions in 2020 were driven by the strong preferences held by the large majority of voters between the major party candidates. That is very likely to be the case again in the 2022 midterm elections and especially in the 2024 presidential election. Thus, efforts by Republican-controlled state legislatures to suppress turnout by Democratic-leaning voter groups by imposing restrictions on absentee voting, early in-person voting, and use of drop boxes or by requiring that voters present photo identification in order to vote are unlikely to bear fruit. Such efforts could even backfire by angering voters who are the targets of these efforts and by causing left-leaning voting rights groups to increase their voter registration and GOTV efforts.
In other words, voters will show up and cast ballots regardless of the rules.
And let’s be clear: the only real suppression both major parties agree on – and have for decades – is keeping third party candidates off the ballot:
Ballot Access News editor Richard Winger noted that although voting rights in the country progressively improve, changes in ballot access have mostly been for the worse.
Winger traces difficulties for independent and small party candidates in ballot access back to 1889, when the Massachusetts government switched from the then-popular practice of candidates distributing their own ballots to a system in which the government printed standardized ballots.
America’s political class: suppressing ballot access, and voter choice, since (at least) 1889.