Trump’s big lie lives on nearly a year after the January 6 insurrection. Not only is it still being used to explain away what happened at the Capitol, but it’s also being used to fan the flames of voter suppression, including an insurrection of a different sort: power grabs over local election administration.
[These lawsuits and audits] — fueled by grass-roots activists, party donors, sitting Republican politicians and Mr. Trump himself — has evolved rapidly into an effort that looks forward, not backward: recruiting like-minded candidates for public offices large and small, and proposing and, in some cases, passing laws intended to give partisan actors more direct control over election systems.
Georgia’s now infamous SB 202, for example, enables politically motivated county election board takeovers. Though any potential change in control is a drawn-out process, moves have been made toward the first such takeover under the new law. Back in July, Republican state legislators requested a Fulton County performance review. Then in August, state election officials appointed the review board that the law requires. Voting rights advocates were quick to point out that the board is all white and predominantly Republican while Fulton County is home to the state’s highest concentration of voters of color.
Enter the Freedom to Vote Act, which in addition to taking on money in politics and restrictions on early voting and voting by mail, also addresses election subversion. It says that local election administrators cannot be removed by the state without cause, gives them the right to sue state officials in federal court if they believe their rights have been violated, and allows for federal government intervention in these cases.
Much of this section of the bill came from U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock:
[W]e can’t allow power-hungry state actors to squeeze the people out of their own democracy by overruling the decisions of local election officials. This legislation is critical to ensuring the federal government has the tools to make sure every eligible voter’s voice is heard and their ballot is counted to help decide the direction of our country.
Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol to subvert the will of people, and with takeovers like that being attempted in Sen. Rev. Warnock’s home state of Georgia, they are mounting an insurrection at the local level. Yet more evidence that we need the Freedom to Vote Act without delay as we continue to work toward comprehensive democracy reform.