Those who know best are in agreement about the 2020 general election. It was free, secure and safe. The results were fair and accurate. There was no significant voter fraud. Anywhere.
Voter turnout nationwide was massive. Even with the electoral landscape engulfed in a global pandemic, voter participation reached historic highs.
So why are Republican lawmakers around the country working so furiously to change state voting laws in ways that make voting more difficult?
It was President Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the results of a free and fair election that led first to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and later to the surge of Republican-led efforts to make voting more restrictive in several states Trump lost. Critics claim, with good reason, that the new laws represent voter suppression and target minority populations that in some states fueled Joe Biden’s narrow victories.
In Georgia, these cynical efforts have been met with resistance, including from some of Georgia’s most powerful corporations. Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola have voiced strong opposition to the new Georgia law, and Major League Baseball is moving its 2021 All-Star Game away from Atlanta.
Corporations in other states pushing similar voter-suppression laws are also weighing in and raising pressure on the politicians.
The heat is becoming so intense on Republican officeholders that U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell launched a counterattack, telling corporate and business leaders to stay out of politics. We trust he will be roundly ignored.
It is notable that Illinois is not among states pushing restrictive changes to voting laws. In fact, the opposite has happened here. For that, this state’s residents should be grateful. The legislature and governor recently pushed forward a law that actually expands voter access by, in part, extending absentee ballots to everyone.
Across the border in Indiana, the opposite is happening. Indiana is already one of the most restrictive states for voting. Its absentee voting is highly regulated and not available to the general public. The registration period for voting ends a full month before Election Day. And voting ends at 6 p.m. on Election Day, making it one of the earliest states for poll closings.
Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly have even proposed tightening the absentee-balloting process.
GOP efforts in Indiana and elsewhere are similar in that they represent a solution in search of a problem. Republicans say they are responding to citizen concerns about election integrity, but the reason some citizens have concerns is because Republicans, led by Trump, fueled a false narrative about election fraud.
Rather than casting doubts on election integrity, the 2020 election actually showed that a secure election could be conducted under difficult circumstances and produce a fair and accurate result with no evidence of significant fraud.
This campaign to curtail voting rights is anti-democratic. It should be treated as such and resisted at every turn. Americans are entitled to more voter access, not less. That’s what’s happened in Illinois. Voters in other states are entitled to the same consideration.