We have to look at the quality of votes

Voting rights shmoting rights.

Seizing on Donald Trump’s lies about fraud in the 2020 election, Republicans have launched a brazen attack on voting, part of an effort to entrench control over a rapidly changing electorate by changing the rules of democracy. As of mid-February, 253 bills were pending to restrict voting in 43 states. Many of those restrictions take direct aim at mail-in and early voting, the very policies that led to November’s record turnout.

The filthy little truth behind all this is that Republicans can’t win in a fair fight, because there are only so many billionaires to go around.

Republicans have openly talked about their intentions. “Everybody shouldn’t be voting,” John Kavanagh, a Republican in the Arizona state legislature, told CNN earlier this month. “Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.”

He means “not everybody should be voting.” Saying “everybody shouldn’t be voting” is a tad extreme even for Republicans. That aside, it’s still a remarkable claim. The quality of votes? Like what, the size of the bank account, the pallor of the skin, the content of the underpants?

Trump dismissed proposals to make it easier to vote last year by saying: “You’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” And this month, Michael Carvin, a lawyer representing the Arizona Republican party, said something similar when Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked him what interest the party had in defending two Arizona voting restrictions. Lifting those restrictions, Carvin said, “puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game.”

Helpfully explicit. “We put those restrictions there so that we would win.”

Later this year, Republicans in many states will redraw electoral districts for both congressional and state legislative offices across the country, something the constitution mandates once per decade. This will give Republicans an opportunity to pack GOP-friendly voters into certain districts while spreading Democratic voters thin across others, further distorting democracy and ensuring their re-election.

And all of this comes at a moment when the US supreme court appears wholly uninterested in protecting voting rights. The increasingly conservative supreme court has signaled in recent years that it is not going to stand in the way of lawmakers who make it harder to vote, issuing significant decisions that gutted the Voting Rights Act while also giving the green light to aggressive voter purging and extreme partisan redistricting.

Which is not so much non-interest in voting rights as active interest in gutting voting rights.

“The coordinated onslaught of voter suppression bills is not the norm,” Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate widely credited with helping flip the state, told the Guardian. “What is so notable about this moment, and so disconcerting, is that they are not hiding. There is no attempt to pretend that the intention is not to restrict votes.”

They no longer need to pretend.

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