Given the increased political power Republicans won in the last elections, from Washington to red-state legislatures, voters might expect the party to feel that the nation’s voting procedures are working quite well. Yet this is far from the case, as triumphant Republicans are using their enhanced clout to continue their campaign playing up the mythical threat that voter fraud abounds in the nation. The newest and loudest zealot in this cause is, of course, President Trump, with his scurrilous claim that millions of illegal ballots cost him a popular vote majority. His baseless claim only encourages the renewed efforts at voter suppression reported to be underway in a score of Republican-dominated statehouses intent on making it harder for citizens to register or vote. Mr. Trump is trying to sell the false idea that he was fraudulently denied a clear mandate. Republican state legislators, in turn, are no more convincing but just as cynical in insisting that elaborate new ballot protections are needed — protections that effectively target poor people, minorities and students, who tend to favor Democratic candidates.
These include proposals requiring voters to produce new or tighter voter identification documentation and photos at the polls. Other measures would eliminate the convenience of Election Day registration, which invites more turnout. Some measures make it more difficult for college students to claim residency to vote near their colleges; others shorten early voting periods that encourage greater participation.
These are the sorts of hurdles federal courts struck down in some states before the last election as transparent voter suppression. In North Carolina, the courts found the Republican Legislature had blatantly used racial data to deny African-American voters their franchise with a regressive program of “almost surgical precision.”