The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Democratic secretaries of state launch ad campaign linking voting restrictions to ‘white supremacy’

A voter drops off a mail-in ballot before the primary election in Willow Grove, Pa., on May 27. (Matt Rourke/AP)

As President Trump continues to rail about a “rigged 2020 election” on Twitter, the group representing Democratic secretaries of state released its own social media campaign, accusing Trump and the Republican Party of engaging in voter suppression that is “rooted in white supremacy.”

The video ad by the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State connects the issue of voting rights to the current conversation about addressing systemic racism. It uses images of black protesters from the 1950s and ’60s demanding voting rights, alongside those of current protests over police violence, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. A narrator says: “White supremacy does not endure on its own. It is propped up by suppressing black voices and votes.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, chairman of the group, said the ad campaign, which began Monday, is “inspired by the movement we’ve seen in the last several weeks in response to the killing of George Floyd.”

“As a nation, we’ve been reminded that we have a lot of work to do to achieve justice and equality in tackling discrimination and racism in many areas, and our election system is no exception,” he said.

“Modern-day voter suppression policies may no longer include poll taxes and literacy tests, but the disproportionate adverse impact of voter-ID laws, purging of voter rolls and felony disenfranchisement on communities of color is no coincidence,” he said.

As Trump attacks voting by mail, GOP builds 2020 strategy around limiting its expansion

Voting rights is shaping up to be a major point of contention in this crucial election year. Concerns about infection from the coronavirus has prompted Democrats to call for expanded voting by mail. Trump has repeatedly tweeted, often in capital letters, that mail-in voting will lead to massive voter fraud.

Research and actual cases have shown that voter fraud is rare, and there is no evidence to support Trump’s claims that voting by mail will lead to widespread fraud.

The ad by the Democratic secretaries describes voter suppression as “a strategy to hold power. So it’s no surprise that Donald Trump clings to that strategy so desperately in 2020.”

This year’s primary season has been marred by confusion as some states have expanded voting by mail, and some states has seen excessively long lines as state and local officials have faced challenges to conduct in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Democratic secretaries vowed in the ad to protect the expansion of voting by mail “so that no one has to choose between their vote and their health.”

The Republican Party and conservative activists are planning to spend millions in legal challenges and ad campaigns of their own to urge tighter restrictions on voting.