In one of the most brazen and effective attacks on our Democracy, 22 million eligible voters — the overwhelming majority of which came from Democratic voting blocs — were eliminated from registration rolls nationwide just prior to the 2016 elections. There is a clear paper trail leading to the individuals and organizations responsible for this criminal interference in our elections, but the role that Russia played in executing this strategy is still in question. Evidence does suggest, though, that there was collaboration between the Republican Party and their Russian accomplices.
As Reuters reported in April:
A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.
They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election….
….[The} second institute document, drafted in October…warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.”
The key phrase here is “voter fraud.”
Voter fraud is a deceptive narrative that was designed to be used as a cover to pass and implement policies that remove black, brown and poor voters from registration rolls. The specific policies that hide behind the myth of voter fraud are Voter ID requirements and purging through the Interstate Crosscheck System.
In other words, when it became clear that a media propaganda campaign was not enough for Trump to defeat Clinton, they chose to undermine the election by supporting the efforts of key Republican players working to eliminate Democratic voters — specifically people of color and poor Democrats — from registration rolls in time for the 2016 election.
And they were successful.
While only 4 cases of voter fraud were found during the 2016 election, and approximately 40 cases have been identified since 2000 — the deceptive propaganda of widespread voter fraud exploded into a fake national crisis of election security that could only be stopped by the Republican Party.
In the name of voter fraud, 1.1 million voters were removed from the registration lists through voter purging in the months before the 2016 election, and 21 million eligible voters were removed from the polls through voter ID restrictions.
22 million eligible voters from Democratic voting blocs were removed from the registration lists and polling booths in the name of voter fraud.
There is no possible way the Republicans could have defeated the Democrats in the 2016 election without preventing 21 million voters from reaching the polls. Putin could not have executed his plan to influence the election without coordinating with the Trump Administration and the Republican party. A core strategy for Conservatives, since they were the Confederates, has been to implement state and local policies that prevent people of color from voting. And there is clear evidence that Russia was aware of these tactics and willing to support the Republican party in their efforts to defeat the Democrats.
While there is no “smoking gun” connecting Putin and Russia to illegal voter suppression efforts, there is nothing but overwhelming direct evidence that those that key members of the Republican party — whether aided by Russia or not — illegally suppressed 22 million voters through purging and ID laws.
And those were not the GOP’s only tactics.
20–30 million Democratic voters were illegally deprived the right to vote through polling place closures, ADA violations and felony disenfranchisement. This brings the total to an upwards of 50 million black, brown, poor and disabled voters (all Democratic leaning voting blocs) that were criminally deprived their right to vote and prevented form casting a ballot prior to the 2016 election.
Just under 63 million people voted for Trump.
Just under 66 million voted for Clinton.
50 million left leaning voters were prevented from voting because GOP policies.
The Democrats have not responded to calls for support in re-enfranchisement efforts.
2018 is around the corner.
So where does the left stand?
Well, the bad news is the GOP was successful in using deprivation of voting rights to take Congress and the White House in 2016. With Donald Trump as their candidate. The good news is the people that were responsible have violated federal laws that come with criminal penalties. Further, these laws and penalties can be enforced through the lower federal courts. Congressional approval is not necessary. (Read: It doesn’t matter that the Democrats are outnumbered in Congress. They can take successful action anyways.)
By enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But I thought that was gutted by the Republicans a few years ago, you say? That is another myth that has polluted the national conversation surrounding voting rights.
There is a falsehood going around that because the GOP successfully gutted part of the VRA when the GOP won the case of Shelby County v Holder, there is no way it can be enforced. This is not true. At all. As SIIP reports:
“…while it is true that the GOP dealt a huge blow to the Act when the successfully neutralized Section 5 through the Supreme Court, this section is in no way responsible for the prosecution of those engaging in deprivation of rights. The sections that were designed to stop voter suppression are Sections 2 and 11. These sections remain perfectly intact.
Section 11 of the Voting Rights Act reads:
‘No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse Prohibitions to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote under any provision of this Act or is otherwise qualified to vote, or willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count, and report such person’s vote’
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act also specifies:
‘No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.’”
So, for once, the solution to a core part of Trump and the GOP’s assault on our rights is refreshingly straight forward. Voter fraud was used as a front for voter suppression. Voter suppression is illegal. If we enforce the law that makes it illegal, the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression policies such as purging and voter ID requirements will be repealed. 21–50 million voters will be re-enfranchised. And the people responsible would be eligible for incarceration.
Additionally, through federal court proceedings, if there is information that links the 2016 voter suppression efforts to Russia — it would likely be revealed and documented in court.
There are clear targets such as Kris Kobach, the Secretaries of State that pass and implement Crosscheck and voter ID restrictions, Bert Rein (the lawyer responsible for gutting a portion of the Voting Rights Act), and a number of other key players.
There are clear violations of Sections 2 and 11 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
These violations are not subject to the barriers presented by committee investigations, public opinion or Congressional approval.
All that is needed is for the Democrats, community legal organizations and the left to start flooding the courts with VRA cases and uniting behind these efforts in one united voice.
Currently, there are efforts by the Democratic party to counter participationwith Kris Kobach’s Commission on Voter Integrity, gerrymandering, and low voter turnout, but there are no efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act or re-enfranchise voters nationwide.
The current strategies supported and promoted by the Democratic Party and the mainstream organizations and media outlets that support them will not result in the re-enfranchisement of 1 voter, let alone 50 million. Their efforts will not result in the re-enfranchisement of voters in time for the 2018 midterm elections, the 2020 presidential elections or any elections in the foreseeable future. Their tactics won’t reveal the names and identities of the networks involved in criminal voter suppression in the United States, and they won’t reveal if or to what extent these GOP networks were supported in any way by the Russian government.
But there is one strategy that can achieve all of these goals: flooding the lower federal courts with cases asserting criminal violation of the Voting Rights Act.
As a community, we need to be united to 1) demand that the Democrats make VRA enforcement a key part of their strategic agenda; 2) Direct funding and support to community legal organizations that are qualified to but unable to fiscally advance VRA cases in the district and circuit courts, and 3) mobilize long-term, consistent direct action and media attention directly connected to the call for VRA enforcement.
As a community, we have 50 million voters to re-enfranchise. We have a way to do it. And we need to get to work.
To learn more about voter suppression, the Voting Rights Act and Strategies for Resistance, go to: http://strategycampsite.org/articles1.html