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Republicans target democracy from multiple directions, all at once

It's as if Republicans pondered every way in which a democracy could be "fixed" in their favor, and launched an offensive on every front, all at once.

When political observers take note of Republican efforts to curtail democracy, one of the principal lines of attack is voter-suppression measures. It's obviously an important facet of the debate, as GOP officials in multiple states place new hurdles between Americans and ballot boxes.

...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.

But there's no reason to stop there. There are also election administration concerns.

"In 2021, state legislatures across the country — through at least 148 bills filed in 36 states — are moving to muscle their way into election administration, as they attempt to dislodge or unsettle the executive branch and/or local election officials who, traditionally, have run our voting systems." That is the conclusion of a recent report, "A Democracy Crisis in the Making," by two nonpartisan organizations, States United Democracy Center and Protect Democracy, and a nonprofit law firm in Wisconsin, Law Forward.

Republicans also intend to duplicate Arizona's bonkers election "audit" by exporting the scheme.

Republican county committees around the country are making requests to do forensic audits, according to multiple state secretaries of state, and local officials nationwide are fielding bizarre offers from unqualified "auditors."

On a related note, plenty of Republicans intend to replace secretaries of state with far-right partisans, who'll approach the administration of future elections in a Trumpier way.

Republicans who sought to undercut or overturn President Joe Biden's election win are launching campaigns to become their states' top election officials next year, alarming local officeholders and opponents who are warning about pro-Trump, "ends justify the means" candidates taking big roles in running the vote.

Republicans are also targeting the volunteers who work at local polling places.

Republican lawmakers in Texas, following in the footsteps of their counterparts across the country, are pressing forward with a voting bill that could impose harsh penalties on election officials or poll workers who are thought to have committed errors or violations.

GOP officials are also curtailing the ability of Americans to pursue policy goals through ballot initiatives.

[T]his year, Republican-led legislatures in Florida, Idaho, South Dakota and other states have passed laws limiting the use of the practice, one piece of a broader G.O.P. attempt to lock in political control for years to come, along with new laws to restrict voting access and the partisan redrawing of congressional districts that will take place in the coming months. So far in 2021, Republicans have introduced 144 bills to restrict the ballot initiative processes in 32 states, according to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a liberal group that tracks and assists citizen-driven referendums. Of those bills, 19 have been signed into law by nine Republican governors.

By some measures, Republicans are even exploring ways to make it more difficult for Americans to turn to the courts in the hopes of protecting voting rights.

A new Brennan Center analysis identified at least 93 bills in 26 states introduced this year that threaten judicial independence by limiting courts' power or injecting more politics into state judiciaries. According to the analysis, in at least eight of these states, bills have specifically targeted election-related cases. And in 21 states, broader court bills were introduced that would impact election cases, among others, by changing how judges are selected, which courts hear cases challenging the constitutionality of state actions or how judicial decisions are enforced.

It's not enough to say that Republican officials are interfering with Americans' voting rights, though they are. What's striking is the multi-faceted quality of the campaign. It's as if GOP officials pondered every possible way in which the democracy could be "fixed" in their favor, and decided to launch an offensive on every front, all at once.

In isolation, each of the aforementioned reports is important, but collectively, they create an ugly mosaic. The image is one of a major political party that believes the key to acquiring and maintaining power is less about broadening appeal through the power of ideas, and more about rigging the system, across multiple fronts, to defy the will of the electorate.

If Democrats -- and democrats -- fail to appreciate the gravity of the situation, the consequences for our system of government will likely be severe.