Republican states go all-in on voter suppression in response to 2018 blue wave

Republican states go all-in on voter suppression in response to 2018 blue wave
Image via Gage Skidmore.

Republicans can only win by cheating, and they're barely even bothering to hide their intentions. Several Republican-led states are responding to big election losses to Democrats in 2018 not by evolving to answer the electorate's wishes, but by shrinking that electorate through voter suppression.


In Texas, they're looking at making a mistake on a voter registration form a felony, with criminal penalties including jail time for voter registration errors or for casting an ineligible ballot. Arizona is trying to make early voting more complicated; Tennessee lawmakers are considering discouraging voter registration groups by creating fines for submitting incomplete forms. These are all states that either saw substantial gains for Democrats in 2018, or have key races in 2020.  In Arizona, in particular, this is a direct result of big Democratic turnout in 2018, and the loss of four statewide seats, including the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kyrsten Sinema. In Texas, two U.S. House seats and 12 state legislative seats flipped. In 2018 in Tennessee, new Democratic registrations and votes surged in Memphis and Nashville.

The second Arizona seat, as well as Sen. John Cornyn's in Texas, are up in 2020. That and the potential—long shot thought it may be—for those states to flip in the presidential election are enough to have Republicans anxious to make sure as many Democrats and new voters as possible are cut out of the process.

In all of the states, lawmakers insist that they wouldn't be going after regular people making mistakes, but only "people who are intentionally cheating," as Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes in Texas says. "This is only going after folks that create chaos intentionally or knowingly," says Tennessee coordinator of elections Mark Goins. And we all know who that means: young people, people of color, the usual "cheating" suspects for Republicans.

The only way Republicans can win—even in states like Arizona and Texas—is not to let the majority of people vote.

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