Discover more from Diane Francis
March 29, 2021
In Australia, voting in local, state, and federal elections is compulsory for anyone over 18 years of age. Voters in remote areas get mail ballots and mobile polling stations are set up in hospitals or prisons in the outback. Everyone must enroll and update their information online, and if they fail to vote they are sent a letter requesting they provide a valid reason they couldn’t. If unable to do so, they must pay a fine of $20 for the first offense and, if it recurs, $50 for each subsequent lapse. As a result, the country’s turnouts are 94 percent on average, the highest in the world, despite an electorate scattered across a vast continent.
Ensuring the sanctity of voting is what democracies are supposed to do. But not America’s. Its 50 states are constitutionally in charge of the process — not the federal government — and partisan, racist, and corrupt people have been rigging elections since its inception. Now voter suppression grows, along with “gerrymandering”, and has brought the country to another watershed moment, thanks to dark money and a corrupt, partisan Supreme Court.
The term gerrymander was coined in 1812 after Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry redrew the boundaries of a voting district in Boston so that an accomplice was guaranteed victory. It was shaped like a salamander, thus “gerrymander” was coined, and this form of electoral cheating has perpetuated since, with ridiculous results.
Fiddling with boundaries and disenfranchising minorities was rampant after the Civil War to disenfranchise African Americans until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act finally cracked down. States were prohibited from using literacy tests or other methods to exclude African Americans and minorities from voting, and the Act’s Equal Protection Clause prohibited racial gerrymandering. States could not change election practices without advance federal approval.
But in 2013, the Republican-stocked U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act by a 5-to-4 partisan vote, allowing more voting barriers and gerrymandering. And this year, using Trump’s “stolen election” fabrications, Republicans have unleashed a flood of 250 voter suppression proposals that are now before legislatures in 43 states. Billed to combat fraud, the proposals mostly discourage voters by complicating registration, purging voters from lists, restricting voting hours to create long line-ups at polling stations, removing polling boxes, and discouraging mail-in ballots.
The Biden regime has responded by tabling the “For the People Act” to reassert voting protections. House Democrats passed this, but the Senate won’t because Republicans will use the filibuster (an objection to a proposal made by just one Senator triggers a requirement to get 60 votes not a simple majority to pass). This will make passage impossible: trying to remove the filibuster will also trigger a filibuster and so on. This parliamentary measure vetoes the majority-rule principle.
Newspapers are full of stories about the filibuster and voter suppression measures in Georgia and elsewhere, but the country’s greatest peril involves the gerrymandering underway as state-level and Congressional voting districts are being reshaped this year. Called “redistricting”, this occurs every decade, to adjust for population shifts, but 2021 marks the first year this restructuring will occur since the Supreme Court trashed the Voting Rights Act and the ban against racialized gerrymandering along with it. Even worse, in June 2019 the Supreme Court declared that gerrymandering for partisan reasons was beyond its jurisdiction and was, therefore, legal.
What’s now going to happen — unless the Democrats’ “For the People Act” is passed — is that redistricting will be done by Republicans who already control 32 of the 50 state legislatures. They will redraw maps to facilitate more Republican victories at the state level and in the House of Representatives too. For example, North Carolina recently enlarged two Democratic state-government districts to encompass nearby Democratic supporters, thus leaving behind districts with proportionately more Republicans. So when the Republicans obtained 48.6 percent of the popular vote, they won 61 percent of the state legislative seats.
This swindling was documented in a 2019 report by Christian R. Grose at the University of Southern California. His conclusions were that after the 2018 elections, 59 million Americans lived in 10 states that were under “minority rule” -- i.e. states where the party that lost the popular vote ended up with the majority of state legislative seats because of gerrymandering. He added that this was because the “state legislative lines were drawn by a state legislature, or by a partisan-leaning politician committee.”
For instance, Republicans in Arkansas won 58.5 percent of the votes cast for State House representatives but won 76 percent of seats. Oklahoma’s results were similar. Republicans in Kentucky won 57.9 percent of the votes cast for their State Senate representatives but won 89.5 percent of seats and in Tennessee, Republicans got 58.9 percent of the vote but 77.8 percent of the seats. Other extremely gerrymandered states included Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and Ohio. And gerrymandering goes on in Democratic-controlled states too.
These biased state legislatures gerrymander federal Congressional seats. In West Virginia, one-third of the population voted federally for Democratic candidates in 2018 but all Congressional Representatives winners were Republican. In Kentucky, 35 percent of the vote was cast for Democrats, but five out of the six Representatives sent to Washington were Republicans.
These games are mostly under the radar but represent a slow-motion takeover of democracy by an elite that doesn’t believe in voter’s rights or fair play. The “For the People Act” is supported by 68 percent of Americans in polling, and would ban suppression, require redistricting to be done by independent commissions, attack dark money, and demand that the Supreme Court adopt an ethics code. But even that “super-majority” of American citizens cannot overcome the tyranny of America’s minority that controls most of the country’s electoral process.
The widespread disenfranchisement of voters by any means is unconstitutional, but from now on each attempt must be fought in courts for years by activists or the Department of Justice. And the creeping capture of state governments through gerrymandering will hand over control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans in 2022 and beyond. This has been planned. In 2020, Republicans concentrated on taking over every state legislature where redistricting will be critical. This stratagem could facilitate Donald Trump’s comeback in 2024 — or the ascension of another autocrat — and mark the triumph of trickery and corruption over majority-rule and constitutional rights.
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