We already know that because Republicans have nothing to offer and their rhetoric and actions alienated all but the wealthiest and most bigoted people in America, they can’t win free and fair elections. Sarah Jones and Michael Wells documented voter intimidation tactics designed to suppress the vote, how people feel when they are subjected to it and the long term effects.
As Michael Wells said about these tactics in North Carolina, “What the future holds for voting in North Carolina is unknown. What is known is that the damaging and chilling effects of this law will be felt for decades, even if the law is overturned this summer.” Sarah Jones observes relatedly that Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “did what his campaign seems best at doing this election cycle — they took a long walk down Fail Avenue. McConnell’s campaign went dirty and by many accounts illegal.”
That’s what made the SCOTUS conservative wing’s willingness to allow vote suppression in North Carolina and Texas so odious. Eventually, if constitutional law prevails and these laws are struck down as unconstitutional, the damage will have already been done.
The Koch Brothers and other plutocrats threw unprecedented amounts of money at people like Mitch McConnell and Thom Tillis, who believe in an election system that’s about as free and fair as the “democracy” of the Soviet Union. Aside from strict voter ID requirements, McConnell and Tillis have resorted to other tactics more consistent with the practices used by totalitarian regimes to create an illusion of popular support for their regimes than anything resembling the democracy of an exceptional America.
Several states that passed vote suppression “laws” also, by coincidence, encouraged the Republican friendly gestapo to actively intimidate voters through Election Day and even challenge their votes in a legally questionable process called “vote caging.”
Voter Caging schemes can involve sending mass direct mailings to registered voters by non-forwardable mail, then compiling lists of voters called “caging lists.” Vigilante operatives use the lists to formally challenge people’s right to vote on that basis alone. More recently, officials or members of the Republican Party have used other methods like database matching to compile lists of voters to be targeted for disenfranchisement.
Vote caging by Republican operatives is nothing new, and after Arkansas’ Supreme Court struck down that state’s vote suppression law, Republicans and their friends at the Koch-friendly Americans For Prosperity returned to vote caging and threw in other voter suppression tactics. Part of the sleaze is a creepy pseudo-scientific research mailer.
“Dear Voter, You’re being studied for scientific research during the upcoming general election!” it begins and “After the election, your voting record will be examined for completeness” then, “you may be contacted after election day to explain why you did or did not vote.”
Deconstruct those things. They aren’t really rah-rah-rah go out and vote. Instead, they sound a chord of ancient memory: the instinctual fear of prey feeling the attention of a hungry predator. If you knew that someone bent on reducing your rights was going to watch you vote, it would creep you out, right? In short, you would be intimidated, maybe intimidated enough not to vote.
Oh sure, the flier doesn’t exactly threaten physical harm. It doesn’t threaten to report illegal voting. It doesn’t burn crosses on any lawns. And we’d expect AFP and its fellow travelers to recite a similar litany of ”it’s not bad thing X.”
But we defy that whole rotten bunch to explain how something so creepy could actually encourage voting. They can’t deny the stench of intimidation.
Good thing neither of us votes in Arkansas. No doubt we or anyone else who recognizes the tactic for what it is and calls out Republicans and AFP would be placed on the cage list.
Poll taxes, laws that allow gun fetishists and ammosexuals to vote but not World War II vets, voting gestapo squads, cage lists, and prison-threatening fliers are not merely a nightmare from the past. As articles by Sarah Jones and Michael Wells attested, this is what happens when Republicans have what Chris Christie called “control over the voting mechanism.”