Here’s a new example that should be added to the official definition of “cutting off your nose to spite your face”: in their zeal to limit voting rights after the 2020 election and proclaim their fealty to Donald Trump, Republicans may have fucked themselves over a little bit.
For decades, the Republican Party has enjoyed an edge over Democrats when it comes to mail-in voting, due in part to legislation that Republicans have passed in states like Florida as well as get-out-the-vote efforts that encourage people to mail in their ballots.
Which is why some Republicans, especially in Florida and Georgia, are now regretting the successful efforts of their party leaders and elected officials to restrict voting by mail. Via the Washington Post:
Now, some Florida Republicans are reacting with alarm after the GOP-dominated state legislature, with DeSantis’s support, passed a far-reaching bill Thursday night that puts new restrictions on the use of mail ballots.
Not only are GOP lawmakers reversing statutes that their own predecessors put in place, but they are also curtailing a practice that millions of state Republicans use, despite former president Donald Trump’s relentless and baseless claims that it invites fraud.
Even as Democrats and voting rights advocates accuse the proponents of Senate Bill 90 of attempting to suppress the votes of people of color, these Republicans say their own political fortunes are in peril, too.
One study conducted by Daniel Smith, a political science professor at the University of Florida, illustrates just how widespread voting by mail is among the Republican base. Via the Washington Post:
He found that state records showed that 18.2 percent of Florida Republicans who said they did not plan to vote by mail in the fall actually did so in the end. In other words, even among Republican voters who supported Trump and signaled mail-vote hesitancy, the desire to vote that way prevailed.
And that signals a potential miscalculation by the GOP, Smith said.
“Make no mistake: Senate Bill 90 targets newly registered and younger voters, African Americans, as well as Democrats, who disproportionately switched to requesting and voting a mail ballot in November due to health concerns,” Smith said. “The GOP leadership has discounted any collateral damage, calculating that the benefit to the party outweighs any harm done to its party faithful.”
Time will tell whether the legislation passed this year in states like Florida and Georgia this year end up hurting Republicans during elections. Any effort to make it harder to vote should be opposed—we should always be trying to make it easier and more painless to cast a ballot. There’s little cold comfort to be found in the fact that some Republicans are now experiencing buyer’s remorse in their rush to rig future elections in their favor.
But it’s also hard not to feel just a tiny bit of schadenfreude when reading that prominent Republicans were too afraid to speak up about the potential that limiting mail-in voting could have on their own party’s candidates. As the Washington Post noted, in the case of Georgia, “Several state Republican operatives said they have spoken directly to lawmakers in their party who did not like Senate Bill 90—but were unwilling to speak up for fear of incurring the wrath of party leaders and their own supporters.
Oops! Maybe they shouldn’t have listened to Donald Trump? Just a thought.