Voter suppression scheme roars on

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THE HUTCHINSON REPORT

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Contributing Columnist

A week after the 2020 presidential election, USA Today took Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s claims of massive vote fraud so seriously that its editors worked closely with a team of vote experts and investigators to examine 10 of the claims Trump made about voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Here are four of the vote fraud allegations that they examined.

Claim: Ballots were found in drainage ditches in Pennsylvania and that’s evidence of election fraud by Democrats.

Fact check: There were no ballots found in a ditch. There were nine military ballots incorrectly discarded in a dumpster — seven of which were cast for Trump — but the incident was found to be an error by a contractor. The Pennsylvania secretary of state stated that the situation was not intentional fraud.

Claim: Thousands of voters in Michigan cast a ballot under the names of deceased people.

Fact check: The claim that 14,000 dead people in Wayne County, Michigan, voted in the 2020 election is false. The list has been investigated and it was found that some individuals on the list were either still alive, or not living in Michigan. Other examples cited were the date of birth errors. Ballots cast by dead people in Michigan are rejected and there is no evidence of fraud.

Claim: Ballots in Phoenix marked with Sharpies were disqualified

Fact check: There is no evidence that tabulating machines in Arizona cannot read ballots filled out with a Sharpie. The Maricopa County Elections Department confirmed that Sharpies are preferred for filling out ballots. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs also confirmed that ballots marked with Sharpie pens would be counted.

Claim: Video shows ballots for Trump being burned in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Fact check: Virginia Beach officials confirmed that the ballots are sample ballots and are not real.

USA Today’s editor-in-chief explained that the debunking of the vote fraud claims was by no means a hatchet job. He made it clear that vote fraud is a serious enough issue and that it is “poison for democracy, damaging everyone and promised to “root out fraud and report the truth.” Yet, the fact stood as USA Today reported. It was not an issue that as the GOP repeatedly screamed, had “poisoned” democracy in the 2020 presidential election.

USA Today was hardly the first journalist organization that set its near-divine mission to shine a light on the truth about alleged vote fraud in the nation. The GOP had been beating that drum for at least a decade before it exploded as Trump and the GOP’s cause celebre in 2020. No place was it more of a clashing issue of contention than Florida.

In 2014, a defiant Florida Gov. Rick Scott essentially told the Justice Department where it could go when it demanded that Florida stop its trumpeted campaign to purge tens of thousands of persons it claimed weren’t eligible to vote. Despite Scott’s bellicose rant against the Justice Department mandate, election officials in all Florida counties halted the purge effort.

Meanwhile, Republican state officials busily tried to figure out a way to get around the order to halt the voter purge. There was, of course, absolutely no proof of any widespread voting fraud.

The overwhelming majority of those who Florida voting officials said were suspect were, of course, Black and Hispanic voters. In many cases, they had taken painstaking steps to prove their citizenship.

Florida officials’ claims of massive potential vote fraud looked even more suspect when Miami-Dade County election officials sent out more than 1,500 warning letters and found a total of 13 people who said they were not citizens. Out of that number they found that an even more stunning total of two persons that weren’t citizens said they cast votes in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 elections.

Fast forward, nearly two decades later and Republicans are still using the same worn template virtually unchanged to allegedly prove that thousands illegally voted — all, of course, Black and Hispanic, and all, of course, for the Democrats.

The bogus war on voter fraud then, and in the years after the Florida GOP vote fraud scam, was not about ensuring clean and fair elections, nabbing voting fraud lawbreakers or upholding constitutional precepts. It’s always been about winning elections on the cheap.

It can only do that by tipping the vote number balance toward having more likely GOP voters and fewer likely Democratic voters. It’s hardly a coincidence that the majority of those targeted for voter purges are Black and Hispanic.

The bogus war on alleged voter fraud has been a stunning success in that it has convinced millions of Americans that massive numbers of mostly Blacks and Hispanics, with the connivance of Democrats, are knowingly breaking the law to vote against the GOP — when it’s just the opposite.

The Democrats scream foul at these thinly disguised suppression ploys and mount court and Justice Department challenges, and a proposed sweeping voter protection law. The White House, Congress and American democracy hang in the balance in the fight against the non-stop voter suppression schemes.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a political analyst and writer. This is the third in a four-part series on the Republican Party’s war on voting rights and part of a forthcoming book, “Bring Back the Poll Tax! -The GOP’s War on Voting Rights” (Middle Passage Press). The book will be officially released Aug. 6, the 56th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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