39. New U.S. Voting Laws: A Response to Fraud?

Many U.S. state legislatures are passing laws that tighten access to voting. Is this a reasonable response to the accusations of fraud in the 2020 election?

No. It is tiresome to repeat this again and again, but serious research on U.S. elections has repeatedly shown that fraud in the system, if any, is trivial. This was also true in 2020, as attested by honest Republican election officials in key states.

But facts seldom overcome prejudice, and a disturbing percentage of Republicans generally (over half in one poll) have bought into ex-President Trump's trumpeting of supposed fraud. Or at least they claim to believe his bloviations as justification for new laws that disproportionately discourage lower-income and minority voters.

As of June 21, 17 states had enacted 28 new laws limiting mail ballots, mail ballot drop boxes, voting hours, assistance to voters, early voting, and other procedures that in their minds increase voting among groups considered politically suspect. Another 115 proposed laws were moving along through the legislatures.

But the pièce de resistance, enacted so far in Georgia and Florida, is a provision banning the provisions of refreshments or water to voters waiting in line to cast their ballots. One can only admire the creative thought behind this extraordinary criminalization of basic human kindness.

But from the legislators' point of view, it makes perfect sense. What's the use of limiting polling places and hours, and forcing suspected political enemies to stand in the hot Georgia sun for hours in order to vote, if good Samaritans are allowed to come to their aid and keep them from giving up?

What comes next? Why not close parking lots in targeted neighborhoods and force would-be voters to arrive on foot? Suspend all public transportation in the area for the day? Forbid voters in line from using the restroom while they wait?

If nothing else, the ban on providing relief to voters in line rips the mask off the pretense that all this is being done to prevent fraud. In its stark ugliness, this one measure alone gives hypocrisy a bad name.