The GOP Is Now Bragging About Voter Suppression

Voting, Thomas Paine once said, “is the beating heart of democracy.” It’s what makes our democracy possible. Without it, Paine said, “man would be reduced to slavery.”

It’s for this very reason, of course, that conservatives have worked since the founding of our republic to make it harder or downright impossible for people who are not part of the political and economic elite to vote.

This conservative war on voting has taken on a number of different forms, Jim Crow being just the most obvious example, but it;s always been based on one simple idea: conservatives lose elections when more people vote, and win elections when fewer people vote.

As ALEC founder and Reagan advisor Paul Weyrich put it back in 1980, “our leverage in the elections… goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

This has been the thinking behind every conservative voter suppression effort in history.

But conservatives are smart.

They’ve always been careful to disguise their war against voting in language that makes it sound acceptable, at least to the minimally informed.

But every once in a while the mask slips, and conservatives tell the truth about their voter suppression accomplishments.

Well, the mask slipped last night in Wisconsin.

During an interview with a local TV station, Republican Wisconsin Congressman Glenn Grothman admitted the truth about his state’s new voter suppression ID law.

Like all voter suppression laws, Wisconsin’s voter suppression ID law is supposedly about stopping "voting fraud."

But that’s not what Congressman Grothman said it’s about.

He said it was about making sure Republicans win the Badger State in November.

This actually isn’t the first time a Republican has let the mask slip about voter suppression laws.

Back in 2012, Mike Turzai, the Republican leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, said that his state’s new voter ID law would “allow Mitt Romney to win.”

The really revealing thing about that clip and the clip of what Congressman Grothman said last night is the fact that neither the Congressman nor Representative Turzai even bothered to mention voter fraud as the so-called reason for passing voter ID laws.

They just went straight ahead and said that voter suppression laws are about winning elections.

The reason they did this, of course, is that voter fraud is just a canard.

It’s a lie made up by Republicans to justify their unconstitutional and undemocratic war on democracy.

In fact, a recent study out of Loyola University found just 31 credible cases of voter fraud out of more than a billion ballots cast in the decade-and-a-half between 2000 and 2014.

You’re more than a hundred times more likely to get struck by lightning than you are to see voter fraud in the wild.

And here’s the thing -- while voter fraud itself is for all intents and purposes a myth, the effects of voter suppression are quite real.

A new study out of UC-San Diego, for example, found that the turnout gap between Republicans and Democrats in states with voter ID suppression laws jumped from 2.3 to 5.6 percentage points after those voter ID laws went into effect.

There is no debate.

Voter ID suppression laws are about one thing and one thing alone: keeping Democrats away from the polls so Republicans can win. And, in that regard, they work.

Even Republicans will admit that when you catch them on the right day.

And, ironically, the reason Republicans can get away with this is because of Slavery. The Framers of our Constitution didn't put a right to vote into the Constitution because they were afraid that right might be claimed by slaves, and they didn't want to get into that sticky wicket.

So how can we protect our democracy from this kind of flagrant and partisan voter suppression?

Well, for one, restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to full strength.

Ever since the right-wingers on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act back in 2013, Republicans in the Old Confederacy have had free reign to suppress the vote of millions of their own citizens.

That needs to stop, and Congress should get its act together right now and fix the Voting Rights Act.

But we need to go farther than that.

Today’s war on voting isn’t just based in the South; it’s national.

That’s why it’s time to enshrine an affirmative right to vote in the Constitution, right along with the right to free speech, the right to due process, and the right to equal protection under the law.

The beating heart of democracy is in grave danger; let’s keep it safe from those who would wish to destroy it.

Let’s make voting a constitutional right.


Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 10 weeks ago

Election results are much more skewed by voter suppression laws than by any supposed voter fraud, the intended result, of course, occasionally acknowledged by the perpretrators.

cccccttttt 8 years 10 weeks ago

Rather than complain about voter ID laws, just help folks

to comply with them.

If the laws are onerous, then go through legal procedure to change them.

If one can not trust the ID of who is voting, then the process is a scam.


BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 8 years 10 weeks ago

In my opinion, the only time it should be necessary to show an I.D. at your polling place is when you don't have your your voter ballot pamphlet with you. Those are addressed to only one person: The person who is already a Registered Voter. I've never had to show my I.D. at the poll because everyone who comes to vote is recognized by almost everyone else present at the time. It's nice to live in a liberal, small town-like village, where people actually know each other and talk to each other. We like to include others, not waste out time and energy looking for reasons and ways to exclude them from the American process.

RFord's picture
RFord 8 years 10 weeks ago

In Mississippi where I live, I registered to vote when I moved from Tennessee 14 years ago. I was issued a voter registration card but have never been asked to show it at the polls, instead, I'm asked for my driver's license. So, why isn't this card good enough ID for voting? If it's because it doesn't have a picture on it then why didn't they take my picture and put it on my voter card when I registered? I've been to vote when all I was asked for was my name and when I said it, the poll worker confirmed my address, scratched through my name and handed me a ballot. It doesn't need to be any more difficult than that. I've never had to wait in a long line either or go very far to vote. I'm sure those 31 cases of voter fraud in 15 years didn't change the outcome any elections either. Election fraud is more likely to occur where politicians purposely do things that are underhanded to win elections like stopping a legal recount in a close election or kicking qualified voters off of the voter rolls to keep them from voting for the opposition. We need a constitutional amendment that gives everyone including prisoners over the age of 18 the right to vote, an amendment that obliterates all of the voter suppression laws, an amendment that goes into detail so much that it could never take a panel of 9 judges to interpret it, an amendment that requires the hosting government agencies to properly accommodate the voters so they will not have to wait in long lines or unnecessarily travel long distances, an amendment that requires voting districts to be determined by math and not by political parties, preferably by foreign agencies that have no dog in the hunt so to speak. The problem with passing such an amendment is that far too many of the people that we elect do not want voting to be fair, they just want to win any way they can.

IM Jussayin 8 years 10 weeks ago

This is what happens when Progressives save up their political energy for four years and spend it trying to elect a President that is completely, or nearly completely, in agreement with their agenda. Meanwhile Tea Party activists are constantly busy on the state and local level getting assemblymen, state senators, representatives, and governors elected. The result is thirty mostly conservative Republican governors and control of more state legislatures than ever.

According to the Washington Post:

"In 2009, Republicans controlled both chambers in just 14 state legislatures. Six years later, they had total control in more than double that number. And that's not even the full, bad story for Democrats. Look at their numbers. In 2009, Democrats had full control in 27 state legislatures; by 2015 that number was down to 11, the lowest ebb for total Democratic control since, at least, 1978."

This is how they have passed legilation to restrict voting rights, limit reproductive rights, legalize discrimination against members of the LGBT community, and I fear they're only just getting started.

In 1972 we thought it was a good idea to pull the Democratic Party to the left. We were successful in doing so, but the result was the biggest electoral debacle in the history of the party. This country, or the majority of it, is not liberal or conservative, but a kind of left leaning moderate. most people don't want government involved in their personal lives, want it to illegitimize discrimination, protect us from religious zealots, and want the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution, not enforce it.

Where it begins to fall apart is when it gets down to money. People above a certain income level gravitate to the Republicans because they want to keep what they've got & think the left wants to take their money & give it to all the people too "lazy" to make their own money. Like it or not, that is the perception. They believe we use their money to buy votes from all the stupid poor people. This is real. I'm not making this up.

Add those people to the bigots and evangelicals and people who want the clock turned back for nostalgic reasons, and you can build a majority. Eventually the majority will ease its way toward the left because of evolution, but if you're waiting for that to happen you'll be dead before you ever get to see it. It's going to take another generation at least.

Fortunately for us the dinosaur party is helping things along by listening to ideological whack-jobs like Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, and O'Reilly, and nominating more extreme candidates. Just look at the 17 dwarfs they put up. Jeb Bush was "the moderate one," and he's several steps to the right of his younger, dumber, brother.

The point of all this is that, I've been reading diatribes here about how Hillary has sold out to Wall Street and how she's a neoliberal, a term which tells me exactly nothing about her politics, (I hear it's attributed to Noam Chomsky but he's a whole 'nother essay.) If Cruz or Trump is the nominee Hillary will win handily, trust me. I don't care, I don't care, I don't care what the polls say in April, Bernie is Donnie's or Ted's best hope.

Whoever the Republican nominee is he will be the best financed in world history. Sanders is financially better off than Clinton now, but he takes great pride in not having a super-pac, and if he gets the nomination he'll be going against Koch money. Add to that the fact that he's a self described Socialist (you won't see the word "Democratic" in any add run by his opponent's super-pac) and I think he's unelectable against anyone currently running. And what happens if they talk Paul Ryan into running.

Don't get me wrong here, if Bernie manages to get the nomination I'm voting for him; hell, I'll even man the phone or knock on doors to help get him elected. But I'm talking to all the "Bernie or Bust" people here; I realize a for a lot of you this is your first contact with the system, but you're probably not going to get what you want. The best Bernie can accomplish here is to get his voice heard (speaking for you) at the convention. For now that should be enough.

Hillary Clinton is far from a great candidate to be sure, but consider the alternative. A Ted Cruz, or a Donald Trump, or even a John Kasich would be a disaster for all the progress that's been made in the past 50 years. Hillary may not be much, but she wouldn't do damage the way a Republican surely would, and she would certainly name progressive judges to the Supreme Court as well as the lower federal courts.

So let's not bite off our noses to spite our faces. No one is going to know if you help to put a Republican in the White House, except you.

stabilizer's picture
stabilizer 8 years 10 weeks ago

The GOP will lose. We FINALLY have a generation of youngsters who will join us. If you doubt the direction this country is moving, Simply answer this single question, and I'd like Thom to list these numbers ON AIR.

# of Thom Hartmann listeners today

# of Thom Hartmann listeners 5 years ago

# of Thom Hartmann listeners 10 years ago

At times it seems gloomy because the obvious isn't happening fast, and MANY Americans are balancing on their one remaining foot - trying to shoot off the other. However, the nation is indeed moving back towards Democracy. Another example is the fact that Bernie is so strong, and Hillary has become stronger the closer she moves to Bernie, and despite the rhetoric, T-Rump agrees with Bernie on MANY things. The ONLY absolute toxic candidate is the bugger eating Canadian Mullah, but didn't I hear that he's applied for a position with Iran.

stabilizer's picture
stabilizer 8 years 10 weeks ago

On Native Americans. A close friend is a Major Chief with the Choctaw and Cherokee, whatever a major chief is I don't know.

Ralph told me that his tribe has an oral tradition that says at one time they had technology and raped the land and overpopulated, but they found that year after year they had to dedicate more time to living, or live worse. Over time, everyone was working all the time and standing still. Raplh says that they realized a sustainable life style is a better way to live, even if it requires that everyone in the tribe has to fish or hunt or gather one hour a day to keep it going.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 10 weeks ago

ccccctttttt, what part of "democracy" do you not understand? Voter fraud is a non problem that requires no solution and the purported "solutions" create exponentially greater problems than the ones they were supposed to fix.

dianne.w's picture
dianne.w 8 years 9 weeks ago

Boy, howdy... I've been trying to call in to the show Friday & today. Cannot get through..Here is a not describing the situation I'm dealing with as we speak trying to my GA driver's license expiring in August in Florida (would be same situation if renewing in GA)... This is long, please pardon... I'm 65... have been had a DL since age 14... Never, ever have been through this....


Photo ID---Not so simple!;"> DIANNE ADKINSON WILLIAMS·SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 2016For the first time in my 65 years, I feel like a foreigner in my own country!It’s time to renew my driver’s license which is expiring in a few months. I’ve relocated to Florida from Georgia where I’ve lived since 1982 and also own a home, so on Wednesday I went to the Bradford County Courthouse to apply for a Florida Drivers License. Even though I’m handing them my valid Georgia license with my picture & everything on it, I’m told I need more documentation. So they give me a list.

  • IDENTIFICATION: Since I’m an American citizen I need a birth certificate or passport. I don’t have a passport, but do happen to have my birth certificate, so I’m good there. Keep in mind, many Americans, especially low income folks, elderly, minorities, etc. do not have a passport & not everyone has their birth certificate and would...just to get a drivers license...have to get one. It costs money.
  • NAME CHANGE: Now this applies to most married women. I need “original or certified copy of all marriage certificate or court orders that show your name change(s)”. Okay, just happened to have my first marriage certificate. I had the good sense after remarrying NOT to change my name, so I was okay there...however, the point is, how many folks keep those documents around? If you don’t have them, you have to try to get them. More time & money.But, it gets better.
  • SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER: BRING ONE-- Social Security card, W-2 form, pay check showing number, any 1099 form. This one is not so hard. Most folks should have one of these, but I’m willing to bet there are American citizens, who for whatever reason, do not.
  • RESIDENTIAL ADDRESS (not post office box) BRING TWO-- 1.Deed, mortgage, payment booklet or rental agreement; 2. Florida vehicle registration or title; 3. Utility bill or hookup/work order; 4. Statement from person you live with along with two address documents in that person’s name. Sure, most folks can manage two of these.

So, I go home & gather up what I thought would be sufficient. All of these requirements to get a drivers license are new. Never have I ever had to provide this much documentation. Not when I first started driving in 1964, nor got a new license after marriage in 1970...all in Florida...nor when I got a Georgia license in 1982 & renewed it several times over the years. So, I’m wondering why I’m having to jump through all these hoops...Feeling a little perturbed, I headed back to the courthouse with all my documents to get my license. Right off the bat, my social security number didn’t verify my birth certificate. Why? Because all my life I have used my middle name. When I married in 1970, I dropped my first name that I had never used & kept my maiden name as my middle name. The system didn’t like that. Are you kidding me????? Right there, my birth certificate with my full name, my parents’ names.... everything, my marriage certificate with my full name & the name of my husband.... duh, there is the link, social security card with my married name... in fact, the original one that was issued in 1970. THIS WAS NOT ENOUGH!!!!I was told I now needed to bring in additional documentation to show that I had been using the name I was giving them. By this time, I’m ready to blow a gasket! I made it clear to the folks working there I was not mad at them, but I was pretty damned mad. So, what do I need? Things like medical records or school records. Now who has that stuff laying around???? It just so happened that back in 2006, I had a need to get copies of my medical records, but I had no idea where they might be in the move. As for school records, back in the good ole days, FSU in their infinite wisdom insisted on using my first, mi, last name on everything so that would do no good. I was being told that I had to show that I had always gone by my middle name. Well, by this time my blood pressure was rising & I was getting angrier by the minute.I went back home & checked the one place I thought my old medical records might be & thankfully, they were there. I took those, along with other documents, legal documents, like divorce decrees, last marriage certificate... whatever. Off I go again. I get back to the courthouse in a bit calmer mood & the lady, Julie, who was the one who handled the “exceptions” (that’s what I was by this point... an “exception”) was very helpful. She went through the medical records looking for those that used the name I go by along with two identifiers like DOB & social security number. It can’t be just one of them... but TWO. She scanned my documents. Now keep in mind, these are medical records. They are supposed to be private. Apparently, that has gone out the window. I had to hand them over if I want a license.All of this information had to be sent to Tallahassee to be APPROVED!!! It was scanned & the request sent. I left... still with no license. Julie is supposed to call me Monday & let me know if the request is approved. If not, I’m not sure what to do next. I was born in this country. I’ve had a drivers license since I was 14 years old. I’m an AMERICAN CITIZEN, a 65 year old mother & grandmother. Because of the stringent requirements to get a drivers license or state ID in the states that have become compliant, many people just don’t get them if they don’t need them. You can see how much trouble it can be for a lot of people. When the REAL ID ACT was passed in 2005, it was not to apply in the following:

  • Entering Federal facilities that do not require a person to present identification
  • Voting or registering to vote
  • Applying for or receiving Federal benefits
  • Being licensed by a state to drive
  • Accessing Health or life preserving services (including hospitals and health clinics), law enforcement, or constitutionally protected activities (including a defendant’s access to court proceedings)
  • Participating in law enforcement proceedings or investigations

STATE PARTICIPATION is VOLUNTARY. So, all of a sudden after 2010 and CITIZENS UNITED many of the “new” red states became compliant and are now requiring these IDs as a requirement to vote. This is wrong any way you look at it.... period.

Rightwngh8tr's picture
Rightwngh8tr 8 years 8 weeks ago

What's up the thom Hartmann app for iPhone?

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