Many factors explain Donald Trump’s victory Tuesday, but I think the attention to white identity politics has overshadowed a Republican strategy of long-standing that bore fruit Tuesday — vote suppression.
I refer to Voter ID laws and laws aimed at making it harder to vote (restricting early voting, for example). Somebody will eventually study this academically, but it’s possible close margins in states with vigorous vote suppression laws — think North Carolina and Wisconsin — could have had different outcomes with better access to the ballot.
The Nation writes about Wisconsin, presumed so solidly for Hillary Clinton that the campaign didn’t visit there.
We’ll likely never know how many people were kept from the polls by restrictions like voter-ID laws, cuts to early voting, and barriers to voter registration. But at the very least this should have been a question that many more people were looking into. For example, 27,000 votes currently separate Trump and Clinton in Wisconsin, where 300,000 registered voters, according to a federal court, lacked strict forms of voter ID. Voter turnout in Wisconsin was at its lowest levels in 20 years and decreased 13 percent in Milwaukee, where 70 percent of the state’s African-American population lives, according to Daniel Nichanian of the University of Chicago.
I documented stories of voters in Wisconsin—including a 99-year-old man—who made two trips to the polls and one to the DMV on Election Day just to be able to vote, while others decided not to vote at all because they were denied IDs. When Margie Mueller, an 85-year-old woman from Plymouth, Wisconsin, wasn’t allowed to vote with her expired driver’s license, her husband, Alvin, decided not to vote either. They were both Democrats. “The damn Republicans,” he said, “don’t want Latinos and old people to vote.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s rollback of the Voting Rights Act was instrumental in developments around the country. It’s not likely to improve in the coming four years.
Arkansas’s Constitution saved the state from a bad Voter ID law. But our own political leanings were sufficient to produce an honest and indisputable outcome here, however deplorable it might be to those of us in the minority.
The Nation says this story was undercovered. Hard to dispute.