US President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, the US, December 5 2020. Picture: ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/BLOOMBERG
US President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, the US, December 5 2020. Picture: ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/BLOOMBERG

The real lesson of the US election was that, in the face of the pandemic and a ceaseless and baseless campaign by President Donald Trump and his supporters to delegitimise voting by mail, a record number of votes were cast and counted with barely a hitch. Voting was made easier, and voters took the opportunity to have their voices heard. The system worked.

But some Republicans are bent on learning the wrong lesson, pushing to restrict voting access instead of embracing the heroic efforts by state and local officials countrywide to expand it. Elected officials and the voters they serve must reject any such new restrictions outright.

Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger drew praise from political leaders countrywide — and Trump’s ire — when he certified the state’s presidential election results in president-elect Joe Biden’s favour, adding that a statewide audit “reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results”.

But even as he slapped down the false claims of election fraud that have served to underpin Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss in court, Raffensperger also used the contrived confusion as an excuse to propose a solution that lacks a problem: more restrictive voting laws.

“Close elections sow distrust; people feel their side was cheated,” Raffensperger said, urging new rules including those that would make it easier to purge voter rolls and impose a photo ID requirement for mail-in voting.

Essentially, after touting the success of an election in which voter access was expanded due to the pandemic, Raffensperger wants to make it harder to vote again, ostensibly because some voters believed Trump’s lies about fraud. It’s illogical and antidemocratic; what might actually give people more trust in elections is if they all know their votes counted.

Georgia Republicans aren’t alone in using Trump’s bogus fraud claims as fuel for restrictive voting laws. South Carolina Republicans in the US House called in November for more election laws including stricter photo ID laws and boosting state officials’ review of voter registration rolls — all while echoing Trump’s debunked claims of fraud and irregularities. /Boston, December 2

Boston Globe

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