Since the midterm election, a few things have become clear: Yes, we did have a blue wave. A big one, with 39 pick-ups for Democrats in the House, seven governor’s seats flipped red to blue, and a net gain of 350 state legislative seats. Media reports of lack of enthusiasm among Latinos prior to Election Day were way off — in fact, Latino turnout increased approximately 174% from 2014. And, finally, voter suppression doesn’t start or stop on Election Day. In Georgia and Florida, efforts to ensure that all votes are counted were aggressively challenged by the officials in charge of voting systems in those states — both of whom just happened to be Republican candidates in two of the contested races. Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse. The Democratic candidates in both states conceded their races.
There’s a common thread that runs through these three observations: there is growing movement of voters who support electing more diverse and progressive federal and state officials — and there is an overt effort being made by the Republican establishment to thwart that movement. We are seeing a shift in power from a nearly all-white political party that supported the gutting of the Voting Rights Act to an inclusive party that has made legislation to expand voting rights one of its top priorities for the coming year.
In fighting for restrictive voting practices and against a full counting of votes, Republicans in Georgia and Florida chose short-term political expediency over the long-term health of their state’s electoral process, and they provided a vivid illustration of what likely motivated Democratic voters (including record numbers of people of color and young voters) to turn out in the numbers we saw on Nov. 6.