Salon: Bills targeting local officials who resisted Trump could allow GOP to “overturn election results”
Salon: Bills targeting local officials who resisted Trump could allow GOP to "overturn election results"
Republicans in at least 14 states have introduced legislation that would seize power from election officials or limit their authority, apparently in response to unfounded attacks from former President Donald Trump and allies who sought to overturn his election loss.
Republican state legislators across the country have responded to Trump’s baseless election challenges, which were roundly rejected by dozens of judges, by rolling out more than 360 bills aimed at restricting voting access in nearly every state. But while much of the attention has focused on measures that would limit ballot access, like Georgia’s sweeping election bill, which Democrats have compared to Jim Crow-era restrictions, some of the proposals include provisions that would strip election officials of power and even impose criminal penalties for officials who defy the new restrictions.
Coverage of Georgia’s massive bill has largely focused on provisions that would restrict absentee ballot access and make it a crime to provide water or food to voters in long lines. But the bill also includes more insidious measures that could allow Republicans to give “themselves power to overturn election results,” Sylvia Albert, director of the voting and elections program at the nonpartisan voter advocacy group Common Cause, said in an interview with Salon. …
The law could “absolutely” be used to overturn election results, Albert said, given the repeated attempts by Trump supporters, including many Georgia Republicans and even Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, to overturn the state’s results last year. “Politicians will look to use any avenue available to them to maintain power. Just because it might have a few steps doesn’t mean that they won’t do it or figure out ways to get around those steps.”
But it’s more likely this law would be used to “ensure that their suppression measures are successful,” Albert added. “What this is doing is saying, ‘Hey, we enacted suppressive state laws and we want to make sure no local election official actually attempts to help people overcome the burdens of those state laws.'” …
While the measures are not expected to get far in Democratic-led states — except in Michigan where Republican state lawmakers are plotting to subvert Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vow to veto any voting restrictions — they are likely to advance in states where the GOP has attacked “election officials who did not support Trump’s lies,” Albert said. …
Albert argued that there may be a legitimate way to address these attacks on local authorities through pre-clearance. “A strong argument could be made that changing the power of local election officials is definitely a change to election law that would have an effect on Black and brown communities,” she said.
Albert compared the Republican push to take over local election powers to authoritarian regimes in Russia and North Korea.
“America is one of the only democracies that does not have elections run by a nonpartisan government entity,” she said. “What you’re seeing right now is the danger of politicians running elections. We should all be very much on guard.”