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Valued Social Butterfly
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Democrats must fight harder

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Message 11 of 11

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/08/01/democrats-must-fight-harder-for-voting-...

 

At his Tampa rally, President Trump, tribune of the common man, noted that “If you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID.” His unfamiliarity with modern retail procedures notwithstanding, Trump was attempting to argue that everyone who votes should have to show a photo ID.

 

It’s ridiculous that we’re still having this argument when it has been so amply demonstrated both that voter impersonation is virtually nonexistent and that ID laws disenfranchise large numbers of Americans. But logic and evidence never stopped Republicans from making an argument when it would help them seize and hold power, which is why Democrats have to work extra-hard simply to level the electoral playing field.

 

That’s why it was so significant that the Michigan Supreme Court ruled yesterday that an initiative to move control of the state’s district lines from the party that controls the legislature to an independent commission can appear on ballots in November. Though the initiative’s backers had gathered more than enough signatures, a coalition of Republicans led by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce sued to declare the initiative invalid. The lawsuit lost, but only by a 4-3 margin.

 

The situation in Michigan is an excellent microcosm of how Republicans have managed to twist the procedures of democracy to their advantage, and what it will take to undo those distortions. After they took control of the legislature and the governor’s office in 2010, Republicans were in a position to gerrymander their state after that year’s census, which they did with gusto. Today, in a state that has often voted for Democrats (Barack Obama won it twice, and Trump won it by fewer than 11,000 votes), nine of the state’s 14 members of Congress are Republicans.

 

As the New York Times reported, in newly disclosed emails involving the 2011 redistricting, Republicans in the legislature “boast of concentrating ‘Dem garbage’ into four of the five southeast Michigan districts that Democrats now control, and of packing African-Americans into a metropolitan Detroit House district. One email likened a fingerlike extension they created in one Democratic district map to an obscene gesture toward its congressman, Representative Sander M. Levin.”

 

Chances are that the initiative will win in November — one poll found voters favoring it by 53-27 — but the state will still have its voter-ID law, voter purges using Kris Kobach’s discredited Crosscheck system, and pretty much any other means Republicans can come up with to make voting more difficult, especially for poor, young and minority voters.

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