It’s an old trick – if politicians want voters to lean their direction, they use tactics to instill fear. Like the current push by the White House to ferret out the cause of all those fraudulent votes that kept Trump from winning the popular vote. Voters do have a reason to protect the sanctity of their vote, but voter fraud is not our hobgoblin.
That is not to say that threats do not exist; they are aplenty. The vote is diminished or eliminated if the citizen’s right to vote is impeded; if their access to accurate and reliable information is skewed; if the voting precincts are rigged to favor one party; or if channels of information are flooded with false and misleading propaganda. While our attention is being drawn to nonexistent voter fraud, these real threats flourish.
Voter suppression laws have been on the uptick in recent years as a Republican strategy to maintain their control. These laws make it more difficult for certain voting groups to register or cast a ballot, limiting times the polls are open and reducing polling locations in precincts that might vote Democrat.
Gerrymandering is another threat. Politicians redraw the boundaries to electoral districts to favor their party by diluting the number of opposing voters in every district, or they pack the opposing voters into a single district – either way, rendering those votes as inconsequential.
A recent series of laws and court decisions (think Citizens United) have diminished the individual vote by giving undue power to the wealthiest among us and to corporations, to spend unlimited funds to flood local, state and national campaigns with propaganda intended to bend the election to their advantage.
Social media has added to the threat with its own flood of inaccurate, unsubstantiated gossip and innuendo. And then there is a new hobgoblin under investigation now – regarding possible interference by and collusion with a foreign government – guaranteed to devalue or destroy the individual vote.
A lot of things need fixing in our voting system; a lot of nefarious deeds need investigating; voters should be concerned about the quality of political information; campaign financing laws need to be changed, and so on. But voter fraud is merely a red herring to divert our attention from these real demons.
— Jonnie Martin