Election day has finally arrived, which I am sure is a relief to all those who have been plagued for the last few weeks, if not months, with TV ads, mailings, and online fundraising pitches that describe in apocalyptic terms the disasters that will inevitably unfold if the opponents win, something that can only be averted if you send money immediately. In the past, the fear was that Republicans would implement policies that were anti-choice, xenophobic, anti-poor, anti-minorities, and anti-LGBTQ. Now the fear is that they will actually subvert future elections, an even more ominous prospect.
For me, the main item of interest is to see how many people will vote for candidates who have signed on to the insane idea that the last election was rigged and that Trump won, along with all the other accompanying QAnon conspiracies. These people have got a lot of attention and this election will be a good measure of how far this mass delusion has actually spread. There are undoubtedly many traditional Republican voters who do not believe all that nonsense. The question is whether they are disgusted enough by this attempt to subvert democracy that they abandon their party loyalty and vote against such candidates or whether their party loyalty is so strong that they are willing to overlook the very real danger of electing such dangerous people to high office.
Since it seems we can no longer take for granted that election officials will endeavor to maintain the integrity of elections and not suppress the right to vote, some grassroots groups are seeking to enshrine those protections into state constitutions through ballot measures. One group in Michigan has a proposal on the ballot today that would prevent at least some of those abuses.
Proposal 2 would amend the state constitution to add a fundamental right to vote, require at least nine days of early voting, allow voters to get on a list to automatically receive a mail-in ballot, sign an affidavit if they lack photo ID, allow for the use of drop boxes, and allow only election officials to conduct post-election audits. Perhaps most significantly, it would require the bipartisan boards responsible for certifying elections in Michigan to do so based only on the official tally of votes. It’s a provision designed to prevent in the future anyone from trying to overturn the vote – something that nearly happened in Michigan in 2020.
Republican-aligned groups in the state have opposed Proposal 2, arguing that it would essentially get rid of Michigan’s photo ID requirement. But Michigan already allows voters to cast a ballot if they lack voter ID, requiring them to sign an affidavit – and Proposal 2 would simply enshrine that protection in the state constitution.
If passed, Proposal 2 would also blunt a separate Republican-aligned ballot initiative that would allow the legislature to pass a veto-proof bill to tighten voter ID requirements and ban outside funding requirements.
There has been limited polling on the measure, but one recent survey found 67% of voters backed Proposal 2.
If the believers in outlandish conspiracies are numerous enough that the reality-deniers win, then the situation is even worse than having election deniers in high offices who think that it is perfectly justified to only allow election outcomes in which their side wins and who will go all out to suppress voting by those blocs they think are unlikely to vote for them. It also shows that the Republican party has really sunk to the bottom, if there is a bottom. But even worse yet is that it shows that the state of democracy in the US is in really bad shape.
So let’s hope that the situation has not become so dire.
John Oliver devoted the entire episode of his show Last Week Tonight to discuss the efforts to subvert elections.