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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Voter Fraud? No. Voter Suppression? Yes, indeed

Image in Rolling Stone, July 16, 2020

In yet another court decision Trump's lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission failed 'as a matter of fact and law'. The presiding Judge begins with this declaration. "This is an extraordinary case", with italic emphasis on the word 'extraordinary'. After (skimming) this 23 page decision I realized that Judge Ludwig's use of the word 'extraordinary' should not be interpreted as 'great' or 'marvelous', but rather bizarre and unprecedented.

Here is what he concludes:

"For the first time in the nation’s history, a candidate that has lost an election for president based on the popular vote is trying to use federal law to challenge the results of a statewide popular election." "Because plaintiff has failed to show a clear departure from the Wisconsin Legislature’s directives, his complaint must be dismissed." As Chief Justice Rehnquist stated, “in a Presidential election the clearly expressed intent of the legislature must prevail.” Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98, 120 (2000)(Rehnquist, C.J., concurring). That is what occurred here. There has been no violation of the Constitution."

This and other Trump lawsuits are desperate attempts to use the law to overturn democracy. In that sense, their defeat demonstrates that the judicial system has not yet been entirely corrupted by rogue politicians--and that is a good thing. The problem, however, with these sorts of victories is that they can leave one with the false impression that all is okay in America's electoral system, which, in turn, effectively undermines (or hides from view) all of those detailed and fact-based affirmations of just how skewed and broken a system it really is.

That Trump's refusal to accept defeat should be considered an unprecedented attack on democracy and the rule of law is fairly obvious. However, the real problem is not, as Trump's lawyers and fanatic followers allege, about voter 'fraud' and 'impersonation', but rather one of voter suppression--through devices like gerrymandering, purging of voter rolls, onerous ID requirements, waging war on the Voting Rights Act etc. The purpose of the latter is simply to discourage a certain sector of America from even voting. No doubt there are and have been instances of voter fraud, but the latter is not really a systemic issue. It is, rather, a more haphazard, casual one, and much easier to prove--a fact that clearly demonstrates why American courts have thrown out all of Trump's voter fraud lawsuits. There simply is zero evidence of voter fraud. Period.

The real issue is how (mostly) Republicans have been allowed to build a voting system of suppression and restriction which disenfranchises mostly the poor and people of colour, who tend to vote Democrat. Voter suppression is not aimless or arbitrary, but rather a carefully constructed and systemic form of discrimination that is itself a product of America's deeply racist past. Because of its systemic nature, voter suppression is difficult to quantify and empirically verify. But it exists as surely as Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation still exist in one form or another, (and despite the fact that many of these laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965)

Here is the bottom line: The one thing Republicans do not want to see is any law that entrenches automatic voter registration--if the American electoral system were truly 'fair and free' then America's present Republican party would go the way of the dinosaur, and never hold power anywhere in the U.S. You can read U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig's decision here:

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