by David Ramsey
Here is what a Trump administration crackdown on voting rights might look like in specific terms, per the Brennan Center’s Wendy Weiser:As the recount in Wisconsin begins, where Trump won by 22,000 votes, it's worth remembering that 300,000 registered voters, according to a federal court, lacked the strict form of ID required by the state's voter ID law. Wisconsin Congressman Glenn Rothman said in April, "I think that photo ID is gonna make a bit of a difference" in terms of defeating Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin. After the election, Neil Albrecht, executive director of the Milwaukee's Election Commission, told the city's Journal Sentinel: "We saw some of the greatest [turnout] declines were in the districts we projected would have the most trouble with voter ID requirements."
1) The Department of Justice might decline to enforce remaining portions of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court gutted the provision of the VRA that required states and localities with a history of discrimination to get federal clearance for changes to voting procedures. But the DOJ has continued to use remaining provisions to fight back against state-level efforts to restrict voting access. This might end.
“The DOJ has been a critical player in enforcing the Voting Rights Act against state or local overreach,” Weiser says, noting that many recent lawsuits have been successful in at least slowing the tide of restrictions. “Mere failure to enforce the law could have a real impact.”
2) The DOJ could aggressively pursue crackdowns on voter fraud to harmful effect. “We might see lawsuits pushing states to purge the voter rolls aggressively, saying they have dead people on them,” Weiser says. “That could end up harming thousands of real registered voters.”
Remember, Trump has not only repeatedly fed the voter fraud lie; he has also repeatedly cited dead people on voter rolls as evidence of that fraud. While there are dead people on the rolls, that signals a need for modernization — it’s not a rationale for cracking down on fraud. But Trump could use it precisely that way.
3) The Trump administration could push to nationalize voting restrictions. Congressional Republicans, with the support of Trump, could emulate what we’ve seen on the state level, Weiser notes. “We’ve seen cutbacks to early voting, rollbacks of same-day registration, and laws making it hard for civic groups to help people register to vote,” she says. “We could see national legislation trying to nationalize some of these.” Weiser cites one possible example: A national standard limiting early voting.
4) Trump’s Supreme Court nominations might be hostile to voting rights. As Ari Berman explains, Trump might try to add justices who would further gut the Voting Rights Act: “Conservatives will target Section 2 of the law, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race or color. (This provision was successfully used to challenge voting restrictions in North Carolina and Texas this year.)”