'I'm even more frightened now': Election expert says voter suppression isn't the biggest threat to democracy

'I'm even more frightened now': Election expert says voter suppression isn't the biggest threat to democracy
(Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Donald J. Trump boards Air Force One for his return flight home from Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Fla. Friday, July 31, 2020, en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md.

On September 23, 2020, Slate published an article by law professor/election law expert Richard L. Hasen, who was worried about the type of "power grab" that then-President Donald Trump and his allies would try to pull off with the presidential election. Hasen, who teaches law at the University of California, Irvine, was right to be concerned: Trump lost the election, but falsely claimed that he didn't. And a year later, Hasen is even more "scared" about the state of U.S. democracy than he was when he wrote that Slate article a year ago.

During an interview with Politico published this week, Hasen explained, "I'm even more frightened now than in those past months because of the revelations that continue to come to light about the concerted effort of Trump to try to alter the election outcome: Over 30 contacts with governors, state legislative officials, those who canvass the votes; pressuring governors, pressuring secretaries of state; having his lawyer pass out talking points to have Mike Pence declare Trump the winner even though he lost the election. I mean, this is not what we expect in a democracy."

The 2020 election, Hasen warned, may be a "dress rehearsal" for an even more dangerous "power grab" in the 2024 presidential election. And he believes that Democrats are facing an even bigger problem than voter suppression: voter subversion.

The UC Irving law professor told Politico, "Georgia recently passed a new voting law. One of the things that law does is it makes it a crime to give water to people waiting in a long line to vote — unless you're an election official, in which case, you can direct people to water. That's voter suppression — that will deter some people who are stuck in a long line from voting. Election subversion is not about making it harder for people to vote, but about manipulating the outcome of the election so that the loser is declared the winner or put in power. It's the kind of thing that I never expected we would worry about in the United States."

With their false claims of widespread voter fraud, Hasen notes, MAGA Republicans are bringing about "a denigration in public confidence in the election process." Of course, some of the people who refused to go along with Trump's false claims of voter fraud following the 2020 election were right-wing Republicans — including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, former U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The United States' system of checks and balances held up in 2020, but Hasen fears that it won't in 2024.

Hasen told Politico, "I don't think the same people are going to be in place — that's what makes me quite worried. I don't think the people that showed integrity would lose their integrity, but I'm worried that people who didn't show integrity might now be in positions of power. What would have happened if the election was exactly the same, except (House Minority Leader) Kevin McCarthy was speaker of the House? I don't know that we'd have a President Biden right now. I don't know what we would have."

Election Subversion: Is American Democracy in Danger? www.youtube.com

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