February 15, 2017

Trump voter lies prelude to voter suppression

Nation -  Here’s why Trump’s lies about voter fraud are so dangerous: Republicans in New Hampshire, who now control the state government, have introduced 40 bills in the 2017 legislative session that would make it harder to vote.

The proposed legislation includes ending same-day registration, which boosts voter turnout by up to 10; restricting voting rights to only residents of New Hampshire who plan to live in the state “for the indefinite future,” which could prevent college students and military personnel from voting; and requiring that New Hampshire residents live in the state for 13 days before voting and get an in-state driver’s license and register their car in New Hampshire within 60 days of registering to vote, which the New Hampshire ACLU calls a “post-election poll tax.”

What’s happening in New Hampshire is part of a disturbing national trend. Already this year, 46 bills have been introduced in 21 states, mostly controlled by Republicans, that would make it harder to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

At least 12 states are already considering stricter voter-ID legislation—Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming. Arkansas and North Dakota’s bills have already passed in their state Houses. Legislation from the Iowa secretary of state to implement voter ID will likely be considered in the legislature, with the possibility of more restrictive bills originating in the capital.

Along with Virginia, Texas legislators have introduced legislation that would create strict documentary proof of citizenship requirements to register. In Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire, legislation has been introduced to eliminate or limit Election Day registration, and bills that restrict students’ ability to claim residency where they live and go to school have been introduced in Arizona, Maine, and New Hampshire. Legislators in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, and Texas have introduced legislation that would cut back on early-voting opportunities.

Numerous states have seen legislation that threatens individuals or groups who help others vote or register. Legislation making it more difficult to help others deliver their absentee ballots has been proposed in three states: Arizona, Montana, and New York. Virginia legislators have introduced burdensome requirements on community-based voter registration, along with increased penalties for alleged misconduct. In Texas, a bill has been proposed to make it harder to offer voter assistance, undermining a court settlement last year.

The Trump administration is likely to massively intensify GOP voter-suppression efforts, especially with Jeff Sessions leading the Justice Department. “The issue of voter fraud is something we’re going to be looking at very seriously and very hard,” Stephen Miller said on This Week, falsely claiming that 14 percent of noncitizens were registered to vote.

The Trump administration’s sham investigation into voter fraud will be a prelude to future suppression efforts, which could include forcing states to purge their voting rolls in inaccurate and discriminatory ways; launching bogus prosecutions that target voters of color, like Sessions did as US Attorney; switching sides in existing Justice Department cases by backing restrictive voting laws in court; and pressing Republicans in states and Congress to pass voter-ID laws and proof-of-citizenship requirements to register.

We’re already seeing how such efforts can have a chilling effect on political participation. Last week, the state of Texas sentenced Rosa Marie Ortega, a permanent resident and mother of four, to eight years in jail and certain deportation thereafter for mistakenly voting in 2012 and 2014. (Ironically, she was a registered Republican.) The outrageous sentence is, unfortunately, a preview of what’s to come.

We’re having the entirely wrong conversation when it comes to voting in America. Seventy-eight House Democrats wrote to Trump last week and reminded him that the 2016 election was the first in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and that 14 states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time. Instead of perpetuating the myth of voter fraud, we should be investigating how thousands of legitimate voters were blocked from the polls. You're reading 1 OF 6 Free articles AVAILABLE FOR THE NEXT 24 days

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Ari Berman Twitter Ari Berman is a senior contributing writer for The Nation.

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