Now this is what elec­tion tam­per­ing ac­tu­ally looks like

The Olympian - - Opinion - BY LEONARD PITTS JR. Mi­ami Her­ald

I said it be­fore, I’ll say it again.

“As this coun­try be­comes blacker, browner, gayer, younger, more His­panic and more Mus­lim, it is in­creas­ingly the case that the GOP can­not win if all vot­ers vote. It can­not win, in other words, with­out cheat­ing.” That ob­ser­va­tion, made in this space a few weeks back, was, let us say, not ap­plauded by con­ser­va­tive read­ers.

Not that their vex­a­tion was sur­pris­ing. In the face of dwin­dling nu­mer­i­cal pri­macy, much of the right has seized upon a nar­ra­tive di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed to the truth. It casts them as the real vic­tims here, con­tend­ing with a wide­spread con­spir­acy of voter fraud in which armies of “il­le­gals” vote early and of­ten, to the detri­ment of good, God-fear­ing con­ser­va­tives.

Those who be­lieve that clap­trap can pro­duce not a sin­gle fact to sup­port it, but they cling to it nev­er­the­less. It is their life raft upon a sea of change.

Well, this week, the life raft sprung a leak – again. The ref­er­ence is to news out of North Carolina that the bi­par­ti­san State Board of Elec­tions and Ethics En­force­ment has now twice de­clined to cer­tify Re­pub­li­can Mark Har­ris as the win­ner of a con­gres­sional race amid charges of GOP dirty tricks. Specif­i­cally, there are ac­cu­sa­tions, backed by sta­tis­ti­cal analy­ses and eye­wit­ness ac­counts, that peo­ple act­ing on Har­ris’ be­half went door to door in Demo­cratic-lean­ing ar­eas, col­lected ab­sen­tee bal­lots from vot­ers in po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tion of state law, and di­verted them from the bal­lot box. Given that Har­ris “won” by a pal­try 905 votes, those ac­cu­sa­tions are seis­mic.

More to the point: As Repub­li­cans go about claim­ing vic­tim­hood in a “con­spir­acy” that is a fig­ment of their col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion, this is what ac­tual elec­tion tam­per­ing looks like. Not mil­lions of peo­ple vot­ing who shouldn’t, but rather, votes stolen, by chi­canery, men­dac­ity and in­tim­i­da­tion, from peo­ple who have ev­ery right to par­tic­i­pate in the elec­toral process.

And that’s just one ex­am­ple. There are many more. This year in Ge­or­gia, for in­stance, 4,700 vot­ers found that their vote-by-mail ap­pli­ca­tion forms had mys­te­ri­ously gone miss­ing. In Wis­con­sin, cer­tain vot­ers re­ceived fliers warn­ing that ICE would be pa­trolling polling places. In New York state, a GOP can­di­date sent out fly­ers with false dead­lines for the re­turn of ab­sen­tee bal­lots. All this, ac­cord­ing to the non­par­ti­san Bren­nan Cen­ter for Jus­tice at New York Univer­sity School of Law.

Nor should it sur­prise any­one that this kind of flim­flam – to say noth­ing of photo ID laws, bans on early vot­ing, clo­sures of polling places and other im­ped­i­ments – tends to have its great­est im­pact upon Demo­cratic vot­ers; that’s what it’s de­signed for. If there is a cor­re­spond­ing litany of abuses that dis­pro­por­tion­ately sup­presses GOP votes, I’ve never heard of it.

So one gets sick and tired of watch­ing Repub­li­cans hy­per­ven­ti­late about a prob­lem that does not ex­ist while ig­nor­ing one that does. If they are re­ally se­ri­ous about con­fronting threats to the in­tegrity of Amer­i­can elec­tions, the first step is to get a mir­ror.

The sec­ond is to come to terms with real­ity. Amer­ica is chang­ing, rapidly, dra­mat­i­cally and ir­re­vo­ca­bly. And the GOP needs to fig­ure out how to com­pete in this new na­tion, how to make it­self a party whose ap­peal ex­tends be­yond an­gry, older white male vot­ers.

In­deed, not all the dirty tricks and photo ID laws in the world can ob­scure the hard but sim­ple truth Repub­li­cans face. Namely, that the fu­ture is com­ing, fast.

And they can’t cheat their way around it.

Email Leonard Pitts Jr. at [email protected]­ami­her­

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