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Ethics & Religion
May 19, 2021
Column #2075
New Anti-Black Discrimination
By Mike McManus

Republicans have found a new way to discriminate against Blacks and Hispanics. Laws passed by such states as Florida and Texas "would improperly make it harder for Black and Hispanic people to vote," asserted Tom Perez, the former Democratic National Committee chairman.

The Texas bill bans election officials from proactively mailing out absentee ballot applications or absentee ballots, greatly empowers partisan poll watchers and makes it much harder to remove a partisan poll watcher. Republican sponsors of the bill claim they are trying to prevent voter fraud, yet they could not cite a single instance of voter fraud.

Democratic lawmakers noted the Texas history of discriminatory voting legislation in the state's racist electoral practices of the past. "In light of that history, can you tell me if or why you did not do a racial impact analysis on how this legislation would affect people of color?" asked Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Democratic representative from Dallas County.

The bill's lead sponsor acknowledged he had not conducted a study of how the bill might affect people of color, but asserted it would not have a discriminatory impact.

Two-thirds of Republicans say it is "important" to be "loyal to Donald Trump now." The same percentage said they did not believe President Biden was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election. (They apparently missed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R- Cal) recent assertion that "I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election."

And 47% of Republican oppose a key premise of democracy that you earn the right to govern by proposing ideas that appeal to a majority of people. They'd prefer to short-circuit that process and, instead, make it harder for their opponents to vote.

Last summer Republicans let it slip that they no longer stood for any fixed principles whatsoever, other than loyalty to Trump. That became clear when the Republican National Committee announced it would not adopt a platform in the presidential election for the first time since the party's founding more than 160 years ago. Instead, the RNC released a resolution that it would "continue to enthusiastically support" Trump and his "America-first agenda."

Georgia passed a controversial package of new voter restrictions that was signed into law. Among its many provisions: absentee voters will now be required to prove their identity. No longer can food and water be given to voters waiting in line and the state board of elections is empowered to remove local election officials.

Legislators in Michigan and Wisconsin have also deemed "election integrity" a priority and introduced a raft of legislation to prohibit election administrators from proactively sending out vote-by-mail applications, and tightened voter-ID requirements.

According to the Brennan Center of Justice, a voting rights advocacy group, 253 bills to restrict voting access were introduced in 43 state legislatures by Feb. 19. And at least 53 additional bills have been introduced since then. Of these 306 bills, 89% were sponsored entirely or primarily by Republicans.

It is significant that the four states with the greatest number of voting-restriction bills - Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania - were all states that narrowly voted for Biden. It was the first time that Georgia and Arizona voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in over two decades.

Myrna Perez, director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Program, asserted, "Rather than competing for voters, they are trying to fence some voters out and make it harder for them to vote."

The key strategy is centered on rolling back absentee voting which shifted significantly toward Democrats in 2020 and helped clinch Biden's victory.

A second strategy is to require people to show proof of identity before voting. Six laws have already been enacted. Iowa cut out nine days of early voting, closed Election Day polling places an hour earlier, gave voters less time to request and return absentee ballots and caped the number of ballot drop boxes to one per county.

The Democrats have one major hope to reverse these restrictions. The House passed a bill in March called "HR1" to set national standards making it easier for people to vote. The first hurdle it must overcome is the opposition of Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia which voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

Even if he were to change his mind, Democrats would have only 50 votes compared to the 50 Republican Senators. Ten Republican would have to vote with Democrats to overcome an inevitable filibuster. That is inconceivable.

HR1, sadly, has no chance whatsoever.

Republicans have created a new form of racism.


Copyright (c)2021 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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