Socialist Worker

Voting suppression in the US while Trump gives "alternative facts"

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2538

Rules were changed to stop people voting

Millions were denied their voting rights in the US elections from new laws and requirements (Pic: Flickr Democracy Chronicles)


“I will be asking for a major investigation into voter fraud,” declared Donald Trump on Wednesday.

He lost the popular vote in the presidential election by some three million votes and wants to produce some “alternative facts” to explain why.

There is indeed a long history of rigged elections and voter suppression in the US. But it’s designed to eliminate the rights of working class people and especially black working class people.

To begin with the US electoral system is rigged to give smaller states more weight—originally to placate slave owners.

And millions of people were not allowed to vote in the most recent presidential election.

Suppression

Reporters Alice Ollstein and Kira Lerner wrote recently how in the run-up to the vote, “Republican governors and state legislatures implemented new laws restricting when, where, and how people could vote. In several instances, lawmakers pushing such policies said explicitly that their goal was suppression of voters who favour the Democratic Party.”

In October last year an official on Trump’s election team admitted, “We have three major voter suppression operations under way.” Their targets were young women and black people.

Florida, for example, is one of three states that permanently disenfranchise anyone with a felony conviction. To restore their voting rights people have to travel to the state capital and request that the governor grant them clemency on an individual basis.

Around 1.5 million Florida residents are disenfranchised because of the law. Trump won Florida by 120,000 votes.

Other states have implemented laws requiring extra identification to vote that have weeded out the poor, students and black people.

Trump’s team have claimed there is evidence of people registering in more than one state—only for it to emerge that Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, is registered to vote in both New York and Florida.

Hypocrisy

The hypocrisy goes further. When Green Party leader Jill Stein called for a recount of the presidential votes in Michigan and Pennsylvania, Trump’s lawyers said there was no evidence of voter fraud. “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake," they declared.

Voter suppression has a long history. In 2000, Jeb Bush infamously purged 12,000 voters from the Florida electoral register to help his brother George W Bush win the presidency.

The inquiry which Trump wants to set up will target states which voted Democrat, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer. He went on to say that 14 percent of people who voted “were non-citizens”, citing a 2008 Pew Research Centre study incorrectly.

This means that, coupled with the suppression of black and ethnic minority votes that usually follows accusations of “voter fraud” from the Republicans, they will also use it to attack migrants.


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