Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2019

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Sun editorial:

Why are so many Republicans making assaults on democracy?

Here’s an important question based on the Republican Party’s recent actions in Wisconsin and Michigan, the reports of GOP voter fraud in North Carolina and similar situations in other states.

What is the problem Republicans have with democracy?

In recent years, a pattern has broken out in which the GOP first tries to suppress the vote and then, when it loses elections despite those efforts, tries to limit the powers of winning candidates.

Their message to voters: We don’t give a flip about what you want. We only care about winning and consolidating power.

That’s repulsive.

The situation in Wisconsin is a textbook — and especially galling — example. There, after Republicans took control of the governor’s office and Legislature in 2011, lawmakers approved a voter ID law that would go into effect in 2015 after surviving court challenges. Since then, the law has caused a significant drop-off in voter turnout. That’s especially the case in — you guessed it — groups that tend to vote more for Democrats than GOP candidates, such as students and people of color.

But despite his party’s chicanery, Gov. Scott Walker lost to a Democrat this year, which prompted Wisconsin Republicans to rush through a package of measures that would weaken the authority of the governor’s office and shift that power to the Legislature. And the Legislature, of course, is still controlled by the GOP.

Gov.-elect Tony Evers has called upon Walker to veto the measures, which is exactly what Walker should do.

If he doesn’t, voters should never cast a ballot for him again.

He’ll have proven that he has no respect for the people’s will or for democracy, and in doing so he’ll have disqualified himself for elected office.

Not to be outdone, Republican lawmakers in Michigan followed the disgusting lead of their counterparts in Wisconsin a day later.

The icing on this rancid cake came when evidence of GOP voter fraud surfaced in North Carolina.

Yes, the same party that for years has been accusing Democrats of orchestrating millions of fraudulent votes — despite zero evidence of widespread voter fraud — is now facing credible accusations that it hijacked thousands of absentee ballots.

What’s become vividly clear in all of this is that too much of the GOP is actively at war with democracy.

Not all of the party falls into this group. That’s critical to mention.

But these attacks on democracy aren’t just isolated instances. Republican-led voter suppression has happened in Tennessee, Kansas, Georgia, Arkansas, North Dakota and elsewhere.

This is appalling to watch. It’s nothing less than a concerted attempt to limit the number of people who vote, wrapped in a lie about ineligible voters flooding the polls.

Thank heavens it’s not happening in Nevada. Here, residents have made it clear to decision-makers that we believe in removing as much friction from the voting process as possible. And our leaders, to their credit, have responded. That’s why, in Las Vegas, it’s possible to register in a number of different ways and why the precinct model has given way to valleywide voting centers where any eligible voter can cast a ballot.

Eight years ago in Nevada, we had the good sense to elect a moderate Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, who has helped protect the state from the GOP extremism that has bubbled up elsewhere.

In fighting against the unprincipled members of their party, Sandoval and other Republicans like him are a credit to our national values of fairness and commitment to our system of government.

Meanwhile, the Republicans involved in the type of twisted maneuvers we’re seeing inWisconsin and Michigan are outing themselves for what they really are— un-American enemies of democracy.

Here’s hoping their constituents are now seeing their real stripes. But regardless, history won’t treat them well.