The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

A new research study from University of Massachusetts Boston professors Keith G. Bentele and Erin E. O’Brien confirms what voting rights advocates have been charging for years: Voter-suppression laws are partisan measures that disproportionately target African-Americans.

In the study, titled “Jim Crow 2.0? Why States Consider and Adopt Restrictive Voter Access Policies,” the authors argue that “the Republican Party has engaged in strategic demobilization efforts in response to changing demographics, shifting electoral fortunes, and an internal rightward ideological drift among the party faithful.”

Specifically, the authors find a strong statistical relationship between the racial composition of a state and the proposal of new laws that would restrict access to the ballot. “[W]here African-Americans and poor people vote more frequently, and there are larger numbers of non-citizens, restrictive-access legislation is more likely to be proposed,” they write.

These conditions also hold true with regards to the passage of restrictive laws. The authors’ analysis finds that “states where minority turnout has increased since the previous presidential election were more likely to pass restrictive legislation.”

On the other hand, states where the elderly population is growing are significantly less likely to pass laws that make it harder to vote. This is unsurprising when one considers that, between 2006 and 2011, 83 percent of the restrictive laws to be passed came from Republican-controlled state legislatures. In short, it appears that Republican lawmakers are much more interested in stopping “voter fraud” when it will impact reliably Democratic voters, and less so when it could impact Republican-dominated constituencies.

The authors conclude that “Democrats are justified in their concern that restrictive voter legislation takes aim along racial lines with strategic partisan intent.” The finding is hardly shocking; after all, the primary Republican justification for voter suppression laws — that they are necessary to fight back against an epidemic of voter fraud — has been repeatedly proven to be hollow.

The latest evidence of how voter fraud is a paper tiger came on Monday, when Iowa secretary of state Matt Schultz’s 18-month investigation into the topic was revealed to have uncovered no statistically significant evidence. Schultz’s investigation, which cost the state nearly $150,000, yielded criminal charges in just 16 cases. Five of those cases have been dismissed, and five led to guilty pleas (three of which involved registration by felons whose voting rights had not been restored, one of which involved a woman who cast an absentee ballot on behalf of her daughter, and one of which involved identity fraud).

Bentele and O’Brien’s study can be read in its entirety here.

Photo: Erik Hersman via Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Donald Trump
Youtube Screenshot

Allies of former President Donald Trump have advised members of the Republican Party to cool down their inflammatory rhetoric toward the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation following the execution of a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on Monday.

Trump supporters, right-wing pundits, and lawmakers have been whipped into a frenzy over what Trump called a "raid" by federal agents in pursuit of classified documents removed from the White House during Trump's departure from office.

Keep reading... Show less

Former President Donald Trump

Youtube Screenshot

On August 20, 2022, Donald Trump will have been gone from the White House for 19 months. But Trump, unlike other former presidents, hasn’t disappeared from the headlines by any means — and on Monday, August 8, the most prominent topic on cable news was the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in South Florida. Countless Republicans, from Fox News hosts to Trump himself, have been furiously railing against the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). And in an article published by Politico on August 11, reporters Kyle Cheney and Meridith McGraw describe the atmosphere of “paranoia” and suspicion that has become even worse in Trumpworld since the search.

“A wave of concern and even paranoia is gripping parts of Trumpworld as federal investigators tighten their grip on the former president and his inner circle,” Cheney and McGraw explain. “In the wake of news that the FBI agents executed a court-authorized search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, Trump’s allies and aides have begun buzzing about a host of potential explanations and worries. Among those being bandied about is that the search was a pretext to fish for other incriminating evidence, that the FBI doctored evidence to support its search warrant — and then planted some incriminating materials and recording devices at Mar-a-Lago for good measure — and even that the timing of the search was meant to be a historical echo of the day President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}