The real motivation is obvious. In state after state, the Republican Party seeks to curb democracy, based on former president Donald Trump’s lies about election fraud. The goals are to cling to power by making it harder for Democrats to vote and to satisfy a base that has bought into those lies.
The Texas House passed Friday an election bill that would empower partisan poll watchers and forbid election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications, cracking down on one of the methods that Houston’s Harris County used to promote voting during the pandemic. A companion Senate bill would restrict other methods that helped Harris County hold a successful election. That version would prohibit drive-through voting, cut counties’ flexibility to keep early voting sites open at hours that enable shift workers to cast ballots and impose polling-place mandates that could move voting sites out of minority areas. The House scaled back these provisions in its bill, in part to avoid procedural delays. But, with those procedural hurdles overcome, Republicans could reinsert the restrictions when they reconcile the House and the Senate versions. The restrictions in either bill address no actual problem.
Meanwhile, Arizona Republicans are instilling new hope in those devoted to the fraud myth. Well-trained, rule-bound, professional vote counters found no evidence of substantial election fraud in their swing state. So the Arizona Senate GOP majority handed sensitive election materials to a firm with no apparent expertise in vote counting, run by a Trump apologist, to find the missing “evidence.” The results have been shambolic, with workers mysteriously weighing ballots and exposing them to UV light, in an apparent nod to conspiracy theories about fake ballots being flown in from China. Trump zealots are funding the effort, and Trump propaganda outlet One America News has exclusive broadcast privileges, even as real reporters have been restricted. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) says her observers have seen widespread procedural errors, inconsistencies and sloppiness. This chaotic count seems designed to produce a tally that differs from the real one, entrenching the Trump lie that the 2020 election was stolen. If this happens, Republicans in other swing states will feel pressure to run their own “audits.”
In Washington, U.S. House Republicans may declare next week that embracing Mr. Trump’s election lies is a requirement for leadership, ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) as chair of the GOP conference and installing Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) in her place. Ms. Cheney refuses to countenance Mr. Trump’s election lies, while Ms. Stefanik encourages them as she campaigns for Ms. Cheney’s job.
Ms. Cheney’s fate will say much about the depths of indignity and dishonor to which the Republican Party is willing to stoop.