Voter Suppression: How Conservatives are Destroying Democracy — And What You Can Do About It

Gorsuch and McConnell are trying to destroy this country through voter suppression.

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Republicans have to cheat to win elections

While Trump floats around his meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as an amazing foreign policy accomplishment, the Supreme Court, on Monday, June 11, upheld an Ohio state law designed to further suppress voters and hurt the Democratic Party.

The law enables the state to purge voter registration rolls for registered voters who have not participated in the political process in two years. And considering Ohio law requires constituents who wish to update their voter information to do so at least 30 days before the next election, it is evident that Republicans are doing this to hit apathetic voters who sat out the 2016 elections, thereby contributing to Trump’s win.

Related: Absolute Power? Google’s Impact on the Midterm Elections Could Do Real Damage to Democracy

This is, of course, not the first time the GOP has tried to suppress voters: gerrymandering, rigged district maps, and voter ID laws are all tactics utilized by Republican politicians. But subverting democracy through the Supreme Court is a new strategy, and one that can be traced back to two key people: Senator Mitch McConnell and Justice Neil Gorsuch.

In an ideal world, the country never would have had to deal with Gorsuch. When Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in 2016, President Obama appointed Merrick Garland to replace him. However, McConnell and the rest of the Senate Republicans refused to meet with Garland – an unprecedented partisan move by the party that was determined to obstruct America’s first black President – forcing the position to remain vacant until Trump was elected President.

Now, it should be said that Obama could very well have used the recess-appointment power granted to the presidency in Article II of the Constitution to push Garland through without congressional approval, but he chose not to. Now, there will always be the question of whether things should have come to that in the first place.

Related: In the Moment: Trump Claims Kim and Kanye Support is Helping Him win Black Votes

Gorsuch was another Scalia: a constitutionalist that claimed he would be adhering to tradition, which made him the perfect Supreme Court pick for Trump. To make things even more enticing, he adopted the standard Trump Administration policy of stonewalling any real discussion of his views during his Senate confirmation hearing.

While Gorsuch made headlines for voting with the left-leaning justices on the deportation of a specific immigrant in a case, his decision to support voter suppression in Ohio ahead of the 2018 midterms only confirms that he will be, at best, barely reliable when it comes to fighting the undemocratic policies expected from the Trump Administration in the coming years. And readers should keep in mind that this was a 5-4 decision, meaning Gorsuch could actually have prevented the court from ruling this way.

Combined with McConnell’s move to hurt Democratic congressmen incumbents by removing the August recess, it is evident that the two people responsible for hurting American democracy the most this year, at a time when the country needs all the support it can get to build up a resistance against Trump, are McConnell and Gorsuch. McConnell is the primary reason Gorsuch is in office, so it makes sense that he would return the favor in some capacity. After all, this would not be the first time the Justice has been caught doing something sketchy.

The silver lining to all this is that, because of this kind of ruling, and that of the net neutrality repeal (which just took effect) liberals on the court, and in Congress have become engaged and furious by their GOP colleagues. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Representative Mark Pocan, and Senator Bernie Sanders have all given public responses decrying the court’s ruling in Hustad v. A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Voters should feel the exact same way come November, and there are plenty of steps one can take to ensure that this Supreme Court ruling does not have any significant effect. Remember, the last time the court ruled against voters (by gutting the Voting Rights Act), it caused almost instantaneous change across red states in the country, and the same thing is sure to happen with this case.

Remember, always make sure you, your family, your friends, and even your community are all registered to vote well-ahead of any elections. And I emphasize any elections, because in light of this ruling, the days of ignoring local electoral proceedings are over. And, since anti-Trump/anti-Republican sentiment is building in counties and cities, having these turn blue would bring a positive outcome in the future.

And last, but certainly not least, make sure you and your grassroots campaigns do proper research on candidates and their positions, because it is sadly not enough to rely purely on Democrats to fight the good battle. Blue dogs like Joe Manchin who vote consistently with the Trump agenda have proven that there are sellouts everywhere, so always fight for the right person for the right job. Groups like the Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress have helped to bring attention to populist candidates, but doing original research is always encouraged.

I hope to see everyone out there and voting come November!

Featured image composite by Reverb Press, from photos by Franz Jantzen/Wikimedia Commons, US Government work/Public domain; and Gage Skidmore/Flickr, (CC-BY-SA-2.0).

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Suman Sridhar