Donald Trump’s Voter Fraud Claim is a Precursor to Restricting Voting Rights
He wants to make it harder to vote against him.
It was as though he knew it wasn’t going to go his way. Or perhaps he knew it wouldn’t matter. Prior to the election, Donald Trump spoke at length of a non-existent issue, voter fraud. He insisted that he would only accept the results of the election if he won, stating, without evidence, that Hillary Clinton’s voters would commit voter fraud so she could win. As it would turn out, Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, but the Electoral College would hand the victory over to Trump anyway. Donald Trump is now our president. Suddenly it seemed Trump had been complaining about fraudulent voting for nothing.
But then he continued to complain.
At first, we all just assumed it was the childish whining of someone who had their ego hurt. Donald Trump is a man completely driven by his ego, it makes sense he would be upset. Being an illegitimate president, a highly unpopular president who actually lost the popular vote, would chip away at his ego. Of course he’d continue to insist that there was rampant voter fraud. He’s now claiming that there were at least 3 million fraudulent votes, and they were all for Hillary. What an amazing coincidence, right?
It would be easy to pass this off as one of Trump’s many quirks. Yes, he’s childish and egotistical, we’ve known that for decades. But what if it was something far more sinister? Considering Trump’s behavior, it would be easy to underestimate Donald Trump. We did that for the past year. Now he’s our president.
It’s time to stop believing Donald Trump is bumbling along without a plan. He’s undermining our democracy, and he most certainly has a plan.
In many U.S. states, the Republican Party (GOP) attempted to pass voter ID laws. They were successful in a number of states, including North Carolina and Wisconsin. On the surface, these laws might not sound like a bad idea. People going to vote show their drivers license or state ID, and then they get to vote. You need an ID to go out for a drink if you look to be in your mid to early 20's, why not require an ID to vote? How could that be a bad thing? If you’re asking, you likely have an ID. If you don’t have one, you may have felt a strange feeling in your stomach just now.
These people make up a huge chunk of the population, the chunk of the population that the GOP doesn’t want voting.
“I don’t drive, do I need to learn to drive?” “Is it tough to get an ID?” “Oh, god, do I have to go to the DMV for hours?” “Will I have to call off work?” “Who will look after my kids?” “Is it even worth it? I’m just one person anyway, does my vote even matter?”
To the people who don’t currently have a drivers license or state issued photo ID, the hassle could seem monumentous, and not worth the effort just to cast one measly vote. But that’s the problem, these people make up a huge chunk of the population, the chunk of the population that the GOP doesn’t want voting. Voter ID laws are being pushed by Republicans because it keeps people who are typically liberal from voting.
Who are most likely to not have ID cards? Consider the fact that a wide majority of state issued IDs are drivers licenses, and that, in the past, women weren’t expected to drive. In fact, in married couples with a man and a woman, it’s usually the man who drives. Believe it or not, some women just never learned to drive as it’s not seen as vital for them to learn as it is for men. And that’s not just the previous generations, it still happens today. I actually know women who never got their license. As a woman, feminist, and car enthusiast, the idea is horrifying to me, but it’s a fact, women are less likely to have drivers licenses.
“They can just get IDs though, right?” Wrong.
It’s not just women, in fact, one could argue that the gender lines here represent one of the smaller gaps between those with IDs and those without. Younger people are less likely to have licenses. College students are unlikely to have licenses. The poorer you are, the less likely you are to own a car and therefore need a license. If you live in a city, you may not have needed a car for years. The systematic oppression of people of color in American society has lead to the largest group of people living in America without IDs: blacks, asians, and hispanics, people of color. Only 10% of Americans of voting age don’t have an ID, but within that group, 25% of black people don’t have an ID.
You’re probably thinking, “Ok, this isn’t hard. They can just get IDs though, right?” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It comes down to ease. Before I discuss the problem, I’ll start with a little allegory.
John lives in New York City. He has a loft in SoHo, and lives right next to this wonderful little brunch spot. Mimosas are a little expensive, but the pastry chef is a master at his craft, and makes some of the most delicious crepes you’ll ever sink your teeth into. Sam was friends with John in college. Sam lives in Queens, which is a considerable distance from John (if you don’t know your NYC geography). It takes Sam an hour to get to John by way of the N or W train, which isn’t too bad. John invites Sam for brunch.
Sam is tired, it’s early and he was out late the night before. He also spent a lot of money and is low on funds. Still, he didn’t see John this week yet, and they were close in college. Some drinks and amazing crepes could be fun. As he’s dragging his butt through his morning routine, questioning if it’s even worth it to go, he gets an alert on his phone. The N and W trains aren’t running to Manhattan, and there are heavy delays on the line in the city. He’ll have to take the W, wait at Queensboro Plaza to transfer to a 7, and then walk through a packed 42nd street tunnel to the other side, hop on an A, C, or E train, and take that down. It now looks as though it could take 2 hours to get down to John, via packed trains, with two train transfers, one on an outdoor platform that will be freezing.
Sam tells John it would be far too difficult to get to him today, and asks if they could meet somewhere else. John doesn’t feel like going anywhere closer to Sam, so Sam stays home. John goes and gets crepes and mimosas with his other friends from the SoHo/TriBeCa area. Sam and John agree to hang out some other time.
Now, to any New Yorker living in Queens, that’s a pretty familiar tale, but how does this relate to IDs? We can think of it this way, instead of proximity to a brunch spot, it’s whether or not a person has an ID. In this scenario, John has an ID, and Sam does not. Going to that brunch spot is voting in this metaphor. John refuses to go closer to Sam, which is like demanding that someone has an ID to vote. Because it’s far easier for John to go to brunch (vote), he doesn’t see what the big deal is. But for Sam, going to brunch (voting) is incredibly difficult. Sam wasn’t sure it was worth going before it became twice as hard, and how he stays home. That’s the same thing that happens to people who do not have IDs but are required to get them to vote. People ask if the hassle is worth voting, and tell themselves that one vote doesn’t matter, not realizing that they make up a huge group of people. If we make voting more difficult for one group of people, a smaller percentage of that group will vote. The end result is drastically changed elections, ones that favor members of a group that had no difficulty voting, white, middle aged, wealthy men, the Republican Party’s bread and butter.
Imagine you’re working two to three jobs, you don’t have time to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Perhaps you’re a single mother who cannot afford a baby sitter, and you can’t call off work, so you can’t make it to the DMV to get a license. Maybe you live in a city, and you just don’t think it’s worth it to get. Maybe you’re poor and can’t afford a car, so you think you’re not going to jump through hoops for a silly piece of plastic just to vote. What does one vote matter anyway?
These are the facts:
- Women, people of color, young people, poor people, and even transgender or gender non-conforming people, are less likely to have or be able to use their IDs.
- If we make it more difficult for those groups to vote, a large percentage of them simply won’t vote.
- Voter ID fraud is nearly completely non-existent.
- These are groups that the Republican Party does not want voting.
- Voter ID laws aren’t to prevent fraud, they’re to prevent liberals from voting.
No matter what, if we make it more difficult to vote for one group, that group will be less likely to vote, even if we make only a very small change. Even if it would be very easy to get a voter ID, we still are making it slightly more difficult for people who do not have an ID, and therefore we’re reducing the chance of those people voting. Every little bit swings the election from the opinion of the people to the opinion of the groups the GOP wants voting.
How targeted are these laws? In North Carolina a voter ID law was struck down (too close to the election to make a difference), for being racist. The ruling stated that the Republican Party targeted blacks and minorities with “surgical precision” by enacting the law. The GOP even did studies to ensure the voter ID law would primarily affect blacks and lead to less liberals voting, especially black women. For reference, 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. You can imagine why the Republican Party wouldn’t want that group voting again.
In Wisconsin, one unverified report stated that 300,000 people were turned away from voting. This is a worst case scenario, we don’t actually know that those 300,000 people did not vote, only that they were newly ineligible. However, if even a tenth of that group tried to vote but couldn’t, an extremely conservative estimate (10%, of 300,000 is 30,000), then the entire election could have been changed. Trump won Wisconsin by about 27,000 votes. It was unimaginably close. Obama won Wisconsin in 2012. Wisconsin, North Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and others all had voter ID laws in effect for this election, and all went to Republicans. Many of those states would have gone red anyway, but with this election being so close, it’s feasible to consider that the results may have been altered by these racist laws. By not letting certain people vote, the GOP may have stolen this election.
That brings us back to Donald Trump. If the election were held again today, a more energized liberal base would get out to vote. Democratic turn out was abysmally low this year, and no one thought Donald Trump had any chance of winning. He was actually laughed at and mocked when he went to cast his ballot in NYC. People just didn’t think they had to vote for Trump to lose. More women attended an anti-Trump Women’s March last weekend than his inauguration. It’s almost certain that if the election were held again today, he’d lose in a landslide.
Trump knows that. It kills his ego to admit it, but he knows he’s the least popular president to take office since we started polling for approval ratings. He knows he lost the popular vote by more votes than any president to ever go on to win the election in modern times. He might refute the polls and votes publicly, he might make outrageous claims that the polls are lying and a whopping 3,000,000 people voted illegally, but he knows none of his claims are true. He has two goals: make the press seem untrustworthy, and more importantly, make our American democratic system seem untrustworthy. He’s trying to undermine democracy, and he’s succeeding.
In doing so, Trump can pass a nationwide voter ID law. This would help keep Republicans, including himself, in office. If he can get these voter ID laws on the books in the next two years, he can ensure the Republican majority in the House and Senate remains unchanged, and he can ensure his victory in 2020. Trump is trying to make sure he’s in power for the next 8 years, hopefully no more than that.
Voter ID laws do not reduce voter fraud, because voter fraud doesn’t exist.
Donald Trump is lying, three million votes were not cast illegally. Voter ID laws do not reduce voter fraud, because voter fraud doesn’t exist. Those who wished to commit voter fraud could just make fake IDs anyway (ask any under 21 year old who’s been to a bar about that). These ID laws serve one purpose: to keep people of color, women, the poor, city dwellers, and young people from voting. It’s to keep liberals from voting. Donald Trump and the Republican Party want to pick and choose who gets to vote in America. Trump is trying to undermine American democracy so he can replace it with his version. We can’t continue to pretend he doesn’t have a plan; Donald Trump has a plan for America, and it’s to remain in power for as long as he can.