Republicans in Indiana are apparently so afraid of allowing minorities to vote, they passed a law in May that shutters hundreds of polling places in areas dominated by Hispanics and African Americans. Now they’re being sued over it by the Indiana NAACP.
Mother Jones reports:
The law targets a single county that has the state’s second-largest African American population and its largest Hispanic population. Under the law, the county would have to eliminate or consolidate all voting precincts with fewer than 600 active voters as of the 2016 election. According to the NAACP’s lawsuit, the law threatens more than half of precincts in the county’s three majority-minority cities.
An investigation by The Indy Star shows a disturbing pattern of minority area voter suppression being pushed into law by state and local Republicans, while expanding voting opportunities in white communities:
From 2008 to 2016, GOP officials expanded early voting stations in Republican dominated Hamilton County, IndyStar’s analysis found, and decreased them in the state’s biggest Democratic hotbed, Marion County.
That made voting more convenient in GOP areas for people with transportation issues or busy schedules. And the results were immediate.
The report adds that former Marion County Clerk Beth White, a Democrat, said of the Republican efforts, “It is a deliberate attempt by certain people in our government to make voting hard.”
Trying to rig elections by controlling who gets to vote is not new to the Republican Party. They have been gaining control of state houses for more than a decade and have used their redistricting power to gerrymander a virtual lock on control of the House. Now they’re taking it even further with voter suppression efforts targeting African Americans, Hispanics, the elderly, low income voters, students, and anyone else they suspect might vote for a Democrat.
It was never a secret. In 2010, the conservative political strategist Karl Rove took to the Wall Street Journal and laid out a plan to win majorities in state legislatures across the country.
“He who controls redistricting can control Congress,” read the subhead to Rove’s column.
The plan, which its architects dubbed REDMAP for Redistricting Majority Project, hinged on the fact that states redraw their electoral maps every 10 years according to new Census data. REDMAP targeted states where just a few statehouse seats could shift the balance to Republican control in the crucial Census year of 2010.
That plan worked spectacularly. It’s why today Republicans have a majority in nearly two-thirds of the country’s state legislative chambers. And it’s why in 2012 Democratic statehouse candidates won 51 percent of the vote in Pennsylvania, which voted for Barack Obama in the presidential election, yet those candidates ended up with only 28 percent of the seats in the legislature.
Why do Republicans think they have to control who gets to vote in order to win elections? The answer may be as old as human history itself. Corruption is about control, and control is about oppression.
But the clock is ticking on the GOP. As Tech Crunch points out:
Minorities increasingly comprise larger shares of the U.S. population, with Hispanics and African-Americans currently making up 17.6 percent and 13.3 percent of the population, respectively. When accounting for all minorities in the U.S., whites now make up just 61.6 percent of the population…. The U.S. Census Bureau now estimates that by 2044, no race or ethnicity in the U.S. will represent a majority of the population… and that includes whites…. The impact of this change has certainly been felt in recent elections. Local and state-level elections in regions with significant minority populations have consistently moved Democratic, and there is no real indication to believe this is changing anytime soon.
The Republican solution to winning elections is to stop non-whites from voting. Of course, they could also change their agenda to one that is more inclusive. That’s not likely to happen in Indiana or anywhere else.
But there’s another lawsuit that could force Republicans to start winning elections the old fashioned way; by getting more votes from more voters. Gil v. Whitford, which will be taken up by the Supreme Court in the next session, could force states to draw fair district lines by declaring gerrymandering unconstitutional. Cross your fingers, because the outcome of Gil v. Whitford is a game-changer for the survival of American democracy.
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