In the name of so-called election integrity, Republicans in state legislatures across the country have rolled out — and, in at least a couple of cases, passed — strict restrictions around the electoral process that could disproportionately harm marginalized communities like Black and low-income Americans. In Georgia, for instance, Republican Governor Brian Kemp recently signed sweeping elections reform legislation into law that, among other provisions, limits the usage of absentee ballot drop boxes to business hours — which means that working people hoping to use the boxes could be almost completely shut out.
Stacey Abrams on Republican voter suppression: "They are responding to the big lie, to the disproven, discredited … lie of voter fraud. And they are responding to it by actually doing what the insurrectionists sought, doing what the liars asked for." https://t.co/j3zb3ugqk9
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 27, 2021
In a new interview with The Guardian, voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams condemned the recent elections reform moves as “what the insurrectionists sought” and “what the liars asked for.” In January at the Capitol, a mob of then-President Trump’s supporters stormed the building and attempted to forcibly stop the formal certification of Joe Biden’s election victory, including his wins in states where millions of votes from marginalized Americans propelled him to historic victories. These rioters proceeded under the pretense of the lie that the 2020 election was rigged for Biden, although no court anywhere in the country ever even partially accepted this idea.
‘What is so notable about this moment, and so disconcerting, is that they are not hiding. There is no attempt to pretend that the intention is not to restrict votes. The language is different. They use the veil, they used the farce of voter fraud to justify their actions. Their new term of art is election integrity. But it is a laughable word or phrase to use. It is designed based on anything but a question of integrity. The truth of the matter is there is no voter fraud. The truth of the matter is we had the most secure election that we’ve had. And therefore, their integrity is really insincerity. They are responding to the big lie, to the disproven, discredited and, sadly, the blood-spilled lie of voter fraud. And they are responding to it by actually doing what the insurrectionists sought, doing what the liars asked for.’
Although isolated instances of election fraud have at times been uncovered, no meaningful evidence has ever emerged supporting the Republican claims of systematic fraud. “Election integrity” legislation is responding to a problem that does not exist.
Abrams also argued in support of exempting voting rights protections from the filibuster rule in the Senate. At present, that rule demands the agreement of 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving to a vote on most legislation, meaning that members of the minority can band together and stop progress. Certain budget-related legislation is already exempt from the filibuster rule.
As Abrams explained it:
‘There is a credible argument to be made that the exceptions that have already been accepted for the filibuster should apply to protecting democracy. It is unconscionable that given the visible and ongoing threat to our democracy that had its most tragic example in the insurrection on January 6 — it is unconscionable that we would not treat the protection of our democracy as an absolute good that should be subject to an exemption from the traditional filibuster rule.’
Meanwhile, in Georgia, voting rights lawyer Marc Elias and his team have already filed a court challenge against the new suppressive elections legislation.