An investigation into Indiana politics has just revealed massive foul play on the part of Republicans in regards to early voting.
Indystar, a reputable newspaper company, part of the USA Today network, found that GOP officials have expanded early voting stations in GOP-dominated areas, while at the same time decreasing them in Democratic ones.It was a clear attempt to affect the vote in the state.
And, it has worked.
From 2008 to 2016, the added number of voting stations in Republican districts like Hamilton County increased absentee voting 63%, while Democratic districts like Marion County, largely African-American, decreased 26%.
The investigation found that Republicans blocked the expansion of voting stations in areas they didn’t like, reducing voting stations in Marion County, for instance, from three to one, a major reason for the voting pattern declines.
According to the IndyStar, leading Republicans in the state are refusing to admit to the issue, and are hiding behind closed doors:
“When asked about IndyStar’s analysis, legislative leaders including Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, did not return numerous requests for comment, or respond to questions submitted in writing. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Secretary of State Connie Lawson deferred to county officials for comment.”
Republicans in the state “started to change the rules” shortly after Barack Obama carried Indiana in 2008, mostly from just a few heavily populated largely Democratic, African-American populations. Because of this, that worried them, says Beth White, who used to head the Marion County Election Board, and they took away the number of early voting stations.
While this news is disturbing, it’s not the only case of Republicans being successful at restricting the vote or being found out for it.
In that state, Republican Governor Scott Walker signed a strict voter ID law in 2011 that was found out by a federal court to have unconstitutionally burdened low-income people of color. In the court case, many former government officials testified that Republicans were “politically frothing at the mouth” that they would be able to start winning more elections because of it.
And, in North Carolina, the situation was worse. Emails obtained by Reuters showed Republicans launched a massive effort in the state to restrict early voting sites and voting on Sundays when black churches typically hold “Souls to the Polls’ voting drives.
“In emails, state and county Republican officials lobbied members of at least 17 county election boards to keep early-voting sites open for shorter hours on weekends and in evenings – times that usually see disproportionately high turnout by Democratic voters. Reuters obtained the emails through a public records request.
The officials also urged county election boards to open fewer sites for residents to cast ballots during early voting that began on Oct. 20 and ends on Saturday.”
Donald Trump might not even be president today if it weren’t for Republican states like Wisconsin altering their voter id laws (which he only won by fewer than 30,000 votes). While the measures do put state Republicans at a significant advantage, keep in mind that Trump only won the presidency thanks to the votes of 80,000 people in three states.