The Voter Suppression Myth

Democrats believe their own bull—- about the Side of History so much that they can’t imagine losing an election, because if you have History on your side how can you lose except by someone using the Dark Side of the Force. Hence the daily claim of the left that Democrats have lost because of voter suppression. Kamala Harris, for examples, has claimed: “Let’s say this loud and clear — without voter suppression, Stacey Abrams would be the governor of Georgia, Andrew Gillum is the governor of Florida.”

There have been numerous takedowns of this claim, even by the New York Times.  And the Wall Street Journal had a good editorial on this a couple days ago. (Also David French’s excellent article on this in National Review.)

But I want to bring to you attention a terrific Twitter thread on this subject from Coleman Hughes, a black undergraduate at Columbia who is making a mark at an early age for dissenting from the identity politics orthodoxy. I’ve compiled his whole thread here into one piece:

How strong is the case that Republicans have suppressed minority votes? Georgia’s gubernatorial election between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams is the most widely-cited recent example. Let’s start there.

In 2016, Trump primed his base to reject a potential loss to Hillary with lies about undocumented and dead people voting en masse. In reality, these phenomena were virtually non-existent. He was rightly called out in the media for lying.

In Georgia, Abrams did the same thing, priming her voters not to accept a loss to Kemp on the grounds that Kemp was overseeing his own election, purging people from the voter rolls, & closing down polling locations––allegedly targeting blacks with all of these tactics.

But the voter suppression narrative does not hold up.  First, at the time of the Abrams-Kemp election, there were more registered voters in Georgia than there had ever been in history. (source:sos.ga.gov/admin/files/Vo…)

More important, the percentage of voters who were non-white was higher than in 2014––and higher than it had ever been in history. (Source: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/election-2018-exit-poll-analysis-56-percent-country/story?id=59006586)

The main criticism of Kemp was that he “purged” hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls––disproportionately minorities. But several things about this claim are misleading.

First, the “use it or lose it” law that requires such voter roll purges was created in 1997 by a Democratic legislature and signed into law in 1998 by a Democratic governor. (Source: https://www.allongeorgia.com/georgia-state-politics/voter-roll-purging-it-was-a-democrat-backed-initiative-from-2-decades-ago/)

You get “purged” from the rolls if you don’t vote for two general elections in a row. But once you’re purged you can still vote. You just show up to your polling location and submit a provisional ballot, rather than a regular ballot. (Source: https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/11/georgia-election-critics-question-legitimacy-stacey-abrams-lost/)

The evidence that Kemp even attempted (much less succeeded) to suppress votes is likewise weak. First, Kemp publicly opposed a proposal to close 7 precincts in one majority-black county.

Second, in 2014 he created the first ever online registration service and even created a registration smartphone app, making it easier than ever before the get registered.

Third, Kemp just amended the 1998 law, giving ppl two extra years before they get “purged,” preventing polling locations from being closed within 60 days of an election, & accepting absentee ballots even if they have signature mismatches.  (Source: https://www.apmreports.org/story/2019/04/11/georgia-brian-kemp-use-it-or-lose-it-voting-law-changes)

Why would he do any one of these things, let alone all three, if he were trying to suppress black votes? The “evidence” against Kemp was speculative and almost conspiratorial, much like Trump’s “evidence” of widespread illegal and posthumous voting.

Virtually none of the above facts appeared in Vox and NY Times-world. So ppl with a left-wing news diet accepted it as “fact” that Kemp stole the election from Abrams.

The problem is not that ppl in NY Times and Vox world are stupid or malicious. It is that there is a huge disincentive from expressing even moderate skepticism about accusations of racism. I imagine it’s a bit like publicly defending a “known communist” in the McCarthy era.

Which brings me to this recent Pew Poll, which found a historic and unprecedented rise in voter turnout for the 2018 midterms––including for blacks:

When presented with evidence of massively increased voting for blacks, some feel the burden is on me to prove that voter suppression didn’t happen, rather than on them to provide evidence, *real* evidence, that it did.  You can’t prove a negative.

If your gut tells you a policy suppresses votes, that’s not evidence that it does. Voter ID laws, often maligned as attempts at minority voter suppression, have no effect on turnout & are popular with non-whites.

Others have cited the dip in turnout between 2012 and 2016 as evidence that black votes were successfully suppressed.

But what’s more likely: (1) widespread successful voter suppression by Republicans between 2012-2016, followed by a complete reversal in the efficacy of such suppression tactics between 2016-2018, or…

(2) Obama excited black people a lot in 2012 and drew out a lot of infrequent black voters; Hillary was far less exciting in 2016, so black turnout dropped again; then Trump’s surprise win galvanized the Resistance and increased turnout hugely in 2018.

I think (2) is far more likely and you should too.

It’s almost as if black people have agency, and large swings in voter turnout don’t need to be explained by evil racist forces. What a crazy thought.

Nice piece of reporting by young Mr. Hughes.  Keep your eye on him. I suspect he’s going to be the next Thomas Sowell or John McWhorter.

Bottom line: Democrats are lying about this and know they are lying about this.

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