How many Americans are Republicans willing to kill to win an election?
An obscure symptom of COVID-19 is that in some cases, it has led Republicans to say the quiet parts out loud. Across the country, GOP officials have abandoned the flimsy premise that they favor voting restrictions because of fraud and are plainly stating that making it easier for people to safely cast a ballot amid a pandemic will increase turnout and doom their electoral prospects.
“The things they had in there were crazy,” Trump said. “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
In Georgia, Republicans are up-in-arms over Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's decision to send every resident an absentee ballot. “This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia,” said David Ralston, the state House Speaker. “This will certainly drive up turnout.”
Wisconsin Republicans, who hope to take advantage of low Democratic turnout to win a state Supreme Court race, have rebuffed Democratic efforts to delay the April 7 vote or to send out absentee ballots to every eligible voter. (Unlike Trump and Ralston, they're still claiming that it's about fraud.) And last month, Arizona's Republican Attorney General, Mark Brnovich, "filed a lawsuit against Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, claiming a decision made earlier in the day to mail ballots because of coronavirus fears is illegal."
As Amber Phillips reports today for The Washington Post, voting by mail, as five states currently do, is the safest way to hold an election during an infectious disease outbreak, but there are significant logistical challenges involved in switching over to a mail-in system only months before an election.
But those problems will be exacerbated by a slew of lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign, according to Politico.
President Donald Trump’s political operation is launching a multimillion-dollar legal campaign aimed at blocking Democrats from drastically changing voting rules in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
In the past several weeks, the reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee have helped to oversee maneuvering in a handful of battleground states with an eye toward stopping some Democratic efforts to alter voting laws, and to bolster Trump. The mobilization is being closely coordinated with Republicans at the state and local levels.
This isn't limited to voting by mail.
The Trump campaign and RNC are actively engaged in litigation in Wisconsin, where the parties are at loggerheads over an array of issues including voter identification, and in New Mexico, where the battle involves vote-by-mail. The skirmishing has also spread across key states like Pennsylvania and Georgia, where the well-organized Trump apparatus has fought over changes that could sway the outcome of the election.
Keep in mind that Republicans have won among voters aged 65 and above by an average of 9 percentage points over the past four presidential elections.
It may be shocking that one of our major political parties is willing to sacrifice some of its voters to avoid losing a high-turnout election, but it shouldn't be surprising. After all, these are the same people who would sacrifice a few million Americans to keep the Dow from melting down completely.