February 4, 2021

Alysin Camerota wonders why, if President Trump spent his final days "spouting debunked claims of voter fraud that were dismissed by courts over and over, so why now are more than half of state legislatures introducing bills to increase voting restrictions? John Avlon has our reality check."

"We've all seen our democracy come under attack. And while ex-president Trump faces an impeachment trial for inciting an insurrection, the fight over basic voting rights is far from over," Avlon said.

"Because more than 100 bills have been put forward in state legislatures to try to claw back voting rights. In Georgia, Republicans are reversing past support for no-excuse absentee voting, trying to stop automatic voter registration while banning ballot drop-off boxes. In Pennsylvania, Republicans are trying to roll back mail-in voting expansions they passed just two years ago. In New Hampshire, they are trying to require voter ID for absentee ballots while banning the use of student IDs. I wonder who that is supposed to help.

"But these are just a few examples laid out in a report by the Brennan Center. Now, some Republicans say this is about restoring integrity and trust in the voting process. That's what one Pennsylvania state rep told CNN: 'The confusion that took place afterwards and the lack of faith in how things are run is really affecting people's belief and desire to want to vote again.' But hold on. The confusion and lack of faith was not created by actual voting irregularities. It was created by ex-president Trump and his minions, who constantly lied about nonexistent mass voter fraud as a pretext to try to overturn the election.

"This is what's known as conspiracy bootstrapping. That's when a lie is told over and over and then, when people are confused about the truth, the rumors are used as evidence to demand new legislation to address the phantom menace. So why the sudden sprint to make it harder to vote? Listen to what GOP leader from Gwinnett County, Georgia, said. 'I will not let them end the session without changing some of the laws. They have to change the major parts of them so that we at least have a shot at winning.'

"Got that? This is about helping Republicans win. But writing new rules to keep your party in power is not what democracy is about. Free and fair elections should not be a partisan issue. Let's not be naive. The right to vote has long been a fight to vote, especially for African-Americans in the South. But now we should all realize that we can't take our democracy for granted. That's why so much rides on a bill called the "For The People" Act. Key provisions include automatic voter registration, expansion of early voting, election security measures including backup paper ballots as well as a commitment to a restoration of the Voting Rights Act.

"There's still plenty to debate in the details. Republicans will likely resist campaign finance reform and any push toward D.C. statehood. But encouraging all eligible voters to participate in the elections is a good thing, because representative elections get representative results. American democracy should be a shining example to the world. At the moment, it's not. But we have the obligation to make it better.

"So let's learn the right lessons from our recent history. Have a fact-based debate, and then build a democracy movement together. And that's your reality check."

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