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Mike Pence returns with an op-ed endorsing the most important issue to Republicans: Vote suppression

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In a post for ever-destructive Heritage Foundation’s “Daily Signal,” Pence rails against  H.R. 1, known as the For the People Act of 2021. That bill, which just passed in the House on Wednesday evening, is designed to not just improve access to the polls, but to limit the influence of huge donations that’s been growing since the ill-thought Citizen’s United ruling by the Supreme Court, and to limit the ability of politicians of any party to gerrymander a district into political safety. The lengthy bill is a multi-point attempt to ensure that voting access is guaranteed, that the public is more aware of who is funding elections, and that districts are constructed along sound demographic and geographic boundaries that create more competitive races.

The priority that Democrats place on this issue can be seen in the fact that these are the first bills proposed in both the House and Senate for this session. Getting the bill across the line in the Senate is going to be difficult. A similar effort in 2019 was quashed by Republicans, and there seems little doubt that moving this bill forward will be the real test of whether the filibuster will be continued. That’s because even though guaranteed access to the polls is widely popular, even among Republicans, Republican leadership understands that the immediate future of their party can only be protected by stopping Americans from voting.

That’s the situation that Pence addresses in his op-ed, and it’s perhaps the only one that unites both the “traditional” and “Trump” wings of the Republican Party. Because both know that if Americans are free to vote, if small donations are given more power relative to big dark money slush funds, and districts are created more fairly … Republicans will lose.

To attack H.R. 1, Pence hauls out claims that show how anxious he is to be accepted by the people who were chanting for his execution. The real tragedy of Jan. 6, according to Pence, was not that a rampaging Trump mob smashed into the Capitol and smeared excrement along the halls of Congress. It’s that events “deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America.” Which is, of course, a discussion that was never going to happen, since Republicans had absolutely no evidence of election fraud.

But, in a week in which FBI Director Christopher Wray has again confirmed that there was no evidence of any significant election fraud in 2020, much less anything that would sway the outcome, Pence is back to wave the banner of the people who tried to kill him. America, he insists, “has a long, well-documented history of election fraud.” Election fraud that can only be addressed by the numerous Republican state measures “to restore public confidence in state elections.”

That confidence is being restored by a new round of voter suppression laws that includes over 100 bills. Those bills are designed to eliminate mail-in voting, place new limits on absentee voting off all kinds, reduce or eliminate early voting, place huge restrictions on the number of polling places, require districts to kick more voters off of rolls, require more identification, and make it easier to challenge votes. For a start. Republicans are also moving quickly to enshrine even more gerrymandering, eliminate neutral or bipartisan commissions for drawing up districts, and open the floodgates for more dark money. 

When Republicans talk about “election fraud,” what they really mean is “allowing the wrong kind of Americans to vote.” If they can tailor their bills exactly right—like those that place the same number of polling stations or drop-boxes in small rural counties as in large urban counties—they can maximize the access of their base, while making it nearly impossible for the majority of Americans to submit a ballot.

Republicans know that their only hope lies in the tyranny of a small, selective minority. To that end they are carefully culling voters and raising walls that suppress the votes of the majority. For Republicans, free and equal access to elections equals “fraud.”

And Mike Pence … just equals “pitiful.”