We might just win this race, but still lose the war on voters:
At this point, it is easy to take a victory lap and point out the hypocrisy of the voter fraud outrage machine, the members of the fraudulent fraud squad who proclaim voter fraud at every turn but ignore what’s going on in Bladen. Follow-up investigations have revealed many of the unsavory details of a history of potential problems in Bladen, history which Republican Party officials apparently ignored for at least a few elections.
There’s likely going to be a new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, and Harris might even win again if there’s no way of connecting him directly to the election crimes. But the facts of Bladen will be elided into a general sense that elections can be “stolen” and that “voter fraud” remains a major problem.
Republicans have long since embraced the idea that Crisis = Opportunity (fun fact: The Chinese symbol for weiji does *not* actually translate to that, but the philosophical cat is out of the bag, so just roll with it). The GOP views any new development, even embarrassingly negative ones, as a chance to grab more power for themselves. And usually at the expense of others. It is also no comfort that North Carolina is not alone in these GOP voter suppression efforts:
Over in Wisconsin, too, we are seeing a replay of past suppressive efforts. In 2016, the state had its cutback in early voting stopped by a federal court, and now in the lame-duck session before a Democratic governor comes in, the legislature is passing another cutback in early voting. Currently, counties can provide up to six weeks of early voting, and the new law would mandate that counties offer no more than two. Republican Wisconsin legislators made the specious argument that they were enacting the latest cutback in the name of uniformity by making sure each county has the same amount of time to vote. What they are really trying to do is make it harder for voters in more densely populated Madison and Milwaukee to have a chance to vote without facing long lines. The principle should be uniformity of voter opportunities, not counties.
In Florida, the secretary of state (who serves at the pleasure of the Republican governor) has been putting stumbling blocks in front of county election officials who are trying to register former felons who have completed their sentences. Florida voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative restoring these voting rights, and now the secretary of state is claiming the need to slow it down for administrative reasons, when the real reason is likely that many of these voters will vote for Democrats.
Meanwhile, Republicans keep their heads in the sand when it comes to the real problems with our election system. Witness Georgia, where data scientists have uncovered a very troubling pattern of 100,000 missing votes in the race for lieutenant governor in November. It is likely going to take another lawsuit to try to figure out if deliberate manipulation, voting machine error, or something else explains this troubling pattern. And this is on top of a pattern of vote suppression which has led allies of Stacey Abrams, who ran unsuccessfully for Georgia governor, to bring a monster lawsuit attacking the totality of Georgia’s election system as discriminatory.
Back to the original concern, that Republicans will use this Bladen thing as justification for more voter suppression efforts. I snuck past the paywall at the Wall Street Journal, and found just that:
One lesson from this mess is the folly of pushing to expand ballot access without regard for ballot integrity. North Carolina implemented “no excuse” early voting in 2000, which was expanded in 2002 to mail-in ballots. Previously, a voter had to demonstrate he was sick or would be out of town. As a result, only 34% of North Carolina’s ballots in 2016 were cast in person on Election Day. This hugely increases the opportunities for fraud.
Yet some states have gone even further in loosening election rules. Two years ago California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that legalized ballot harvesting. Now absentee votes can be picked up and delivered by anyone, including paid activists. This change may have contributed to the Republican loss of seven House seats in California. In Orange County the registrar of voters said he had “people dropping off maybe 100 or 200 ballots.”
Those collection efforts might have been above board. But why would any state in its right mind encourage private partisans to take possession of hundreds of ballots? And if California activists began doing the same kinds of things that are alleged in North Carolina, how would the public find out?
We’re glad Democrats have finally found vote fraud they can oppose, even if it’s never where Democrats win. Vote fraud may be rare, but there’s no reason to make it so easy.
Trying to be a little clever there with "vote" fraud instead of "voter" fraud, when it should be "election" fraud. And there's a reason they did that, to perpetuate the myth that individual voters cannot be trusted. But what pisses me off the most is that ass-backwards attack on early voting itself. It has nothing to do with election integrity, and everything to do with the fact Democrats use early voting (much) more than Republicans.
Make no mistake, the circus that took place in Bladen (and Robeson, apparently) will result in a renewed effort by the NC GOP to make voting as hard as possible to engage in.