IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
Image: Mitch McConnell
Caroline Brehman / CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The voter-suppression efforts Republicans pretend not to notice

McConnell said in March that Republicans at the state level "are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever." It was wrong then; it's worse now.


A couple of months ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was asked to comment on his party's nationwide voter-suppression initiative. He responded by pretending it didn't exist.

"States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever," McConnell claimed, adding that legislation designed to protect voting rights is "a solution in search of a problem."

He wasn't alone. Around the same time, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said it was a "false narrative" that Republicans at the state level are passing voter-suppression measures. "There's always bills filed," the Missouri Republican added, "almost none of which passed."

As we discussed at the time, it's true that all kinds of bills are introduced in state legislatures, and while ludicrous measures sometimes generate attention, they also go ignored. When Blunt argued that some pending voter-suppression proposals will simply disappear without serious consideration, that was partially true.

The problem, of course, is the part of his claim that wasn't true.

FiveThirtyEight published a striking tally yesterday, noting that while much of the country learned of Georgia's new voting restrictions, it's one of 11 states in which Republicans have acted this year to make it harder for Americans to cast ballots.

...Georgia is hardly the only state that's made it harder to vote this year. Republican lawmakers have now enacted new voting restrictions in a total of 11 states — Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Relying in part on the latest data from the Brennan Center for Justice, FiveThirtyEight reported that "at least 404 voting-restriction bills have now been introduced in 48 state legislatures." As of this week, 179 of those measures are already dead, and another 137 "have not yet progressed beyond the committee stage," and are unlikely to pass.

And if we were to simply end the conversation here, that might seem at least mildly encouraging to proponents of voting rights.

But just this year, as FiveThirtyEight's report documented, 25 voter-suppression bills have already become law -- up from six in March -- and there are still several dozen related measures pending in states where Republicans have some power.

That includes Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will almost certainly sign sweeping new voting restrictions into law any day now.

In case this isn't obvious, none of these measures were designed to solve problems that exist in reality. On the contrary, Republicans seized on the "Big Lie" and absurd conspiracy theories to justify placing new hurdles between Americans and their own democracy, in the hopes of tilting the electoral playing field in the GOP's direction, whether voters like it or not.

All of which brings us back to Mitch McConnell's declaration, made seven weeks ago this morning, that Republicans at the state level "are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever." It's among the most ridiculous lies the Senate GOP leader has ever told.