There is a constant stream of vitriolic rhetoric coming from the Trump administration about voter fraud.
But the voter fraud the president claims is going to plague the 2020 presidential election is a non-starter. It has been discredited, repeatedly, even by the administration itself. It had to close down that Presidential Commission on Election Integrity as a result. Nonetheless, at the first presidential debate, the president spewed baseless accusations of voter fraud insisted that, “You are going to see a fraud like you have never seen before!”
Well, we might see election fraud, but it won’t be Democratic voters voting more than once, or rejecting ballots, it will be because the administration refuses to let the election run in a fair and equitable way.
Unfortunately, since the decision in Shelby v. Holder, states previously covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — as well as some that were not — are now open to voter fraud.
Shelby ended preclearance of new voting laws in covered states and the expectation that uncovered states would administer fair elections free of discrimination. After Shelby, the number of states with discriminatory voter ID laws immediately increased and Republican-led states felt free to use voter suppression tactics during elections. Texas passed a discriminatory voter ID law the day of the Shelby decision, North Carolina shortly thereafter. Multiple states applied voter ID laws and suppression tactics in 2016, and Georgia used them in 2018 to secure its Republican governor.
These outcomes were good for the Republican Party and the Trump administration and they both are committed to applying similar tactics and new ones to disrupt the ability of the American electorate to enjoy a fair presidential election.
For example, the president worked hard this year to hobble the U.S. Post Office to suppress vote by mail — in the middle of a pandemic.
The president’s election campaign has initiated a slew of lawsuits — in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, Montana, Wisconsin and Arizona — designed to make sure that American citizens can’t vote successfully by mail. The campaign opposes extending dates for early voting and to count mail-in ballots and opposes easing ballot witness requirements to allow qualified voters to mail in ballots without risking their health.
The campaign is challenging Democratic lawsuits filed to make sure ballots get cast. The campaign doesn’t want states to provide free postage, or to eliminate signature matching, or to allow third parties to collect ballots, and they don’t want guarantees that all correctly post marked ballots will get counted.
Furthermore, the administration is trying to fast-track Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation, so that the campaign can confidently throw the election to the high court.
The campaign also seems to be trying to stoke the potential for violence at the polls, calling its poll watching effort an “army” and warning recruits to “go to the polls and watch very carefully,” especially in Democratic-led cities where “bad” things happen. At the first debate, the president arguably called for violent confrontations at polls, extorting the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” a shout-out that invigorated the group and grew membership.
Finally, the president has claimed that he will not submit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. Instead, it is likely that the campaign will stall, cultivate uncertainty based in these pre-election efforts and challenge the results.
All of these tactics are designed to ensure that the full electorate doesn’t vote, or that votes don’t count, or that ballot counts and Electoral College votes can be contested after the fact.
These efforts, not the baseless oft-repeated claims, are, in fact, the fraud.