If Republican politics were a prom, the mean girls of the GOP have definitely settled on their 2021 theme: Voter Suppression Under the Stars! As of late March, legislators in 47 states have introduced a whopping 361 bills that would restrict access to the polls, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Early voting, absentee voting and mail-in voting are all under fire, while Georgia’s new voting law goes so far as to prohibit anyone from providing food or water to voters waiting in long lines at their polling places.
On the latest episode of The Amber Ruffin Show, the late night host made it clear, for anyone still wondering, exactly what’s going on: “These voter suppression bills are designed specifically to curb the ways that Black people and other likely democrats, like city dwellers and working class people, vote.”
Republicans have convinced their voters that these laws are necessary to prevent what they call “voter fraud,” despite the fact that, as Ruffin points out, there is basically no evidence of these kind of violations. Ruffin cut through the BS: “Voter fraud is a fake problem that Republicans made up!”
Not surprisingly, measures to prevent Black people from voting are not new. Ruffin lays out the 150-year history of Black voter suppression, from the 15th Amendment all the way to the Supreme Court’s mind-boggling decision to strike down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. “Non-white precincts now have fewer voting machines and longer lines, they made it illegal for Black organizations to register people to vote and they purged voter rolls,” Ruffin says. “The only way they could have made it harder for Black people to vote is if when you register they made you name three Beatles songs.”
So, what has the GOP in such a frenzy to pass restrictive voting laws this year? Why the 2020 election, of course. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruffin explains, people used early voting, absentee voting, mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes more than ever, leading to the highest voter turnout in a century. And, as the host points out, “When there’s high voter turnout, racists respond by trying to keep Black people from voting.”