Five categories of voter suppression
- This is a rush transcript and may not be in its final form. Some non-grammatical forms have been edited to conform more with the apparent intent than the exact verbiage, and links and notes have been added. Anyone finding errors or confusing statements is invited to correct them here or raise them in the accompanying "Discuss" page or add updates in notes and / or subsequent sections.
- This is a transcript of a videoconference on 2020-07-31 with Mac Heller, Wikidata Q98114624, founder of the American Issues Initiative, Wikidata Q98114621, discussing five categories of voter suppression:
- 1. Make it hard for people to register to vote.
- 2. Make it hard for people to stay registered.
- 3. Make it hard for people to vote.
- 4. Make it hard for people's votes to get counted.
- 5. Make people's votes not matter through gerrymandering.
An 18-minute excerpt from this discussion was played at the start of an hour broadcast on 90.1 FM, KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio, 2020-08-13. It was followed by excerpts from "Voter suppression and the American Legislative Exchange Council" and a panel discussion available as "Election integrity, the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, and the Kansas ACLU". A discussion of all three interviews is available in "Electoral integrity in the United States".
Spencer Graves 00:00
Why don't you give me a thumbnail sketch of your your background, Mac, and what got you interested in this topic?
Mac Heller 00:06
Spencer, I was born and grew up in Dayton, Ohio and went east to college, ultimately went to law school. I've never practiced as a lawyer, but I was always proud of our voting system in the United States, in particular, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It brought millions of Americans into our democracy. As it became tested by time and litigation, it received broader and broader public approval. It was renewed as you know, every x years from 1965, most recently in 2006, where it passed the Senate by I think a vote of 98 to nothing. And to me, that's Strom Thurmond voting in favor of the Voting Rights Act extension is a proud moment as an American, that there was a national consensus that every eligible citizen has the right to vote and that we together would all protect that right to vote.
Mac Heller 01:17
And I was, in fact, always frustrated by how few people in the United States actually voted. Why isn't everybody voting? And the idea that some people would be prevented from voting is un-American to me and, I think, to most people.
Mac Heller 01:35
And so I was surprised in 2013, when the Supreme Court in a case called Shelby County versus Holder gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act and even more surprised to read the opinion. I hadn't read a Supreme Court opinion in 30 years. Even more surprised to read the opinion and find that the basis of the Supreme Court's invalidation of that provision of the Voting Rights Act, was the premise that the era of racial discrimination in voting in the United States was over.
Mac Heller 02:14
And I remember very clearly -- my wife is from Mississippi, and her folks down there have been what they call poverty lawyers, what others would call civil rights lawyers. And I remember this is 2013, calling down there and saying, "Have you read this opinion?" And one of the family members with ice in her voice said that, and I remembered really well, we were very surprised here in the state of Mississippi to learn from the Chief Justice in Washington DC, that the era of racial discrimination in voting in the American South was over -- very surprised and pleased to learn this for the first time from the Chief Justice. She was obviously being sarcastic.
Mac Heller 03:04
And in the years since 2013, Shelby County versus Holder has opened the door for a torrent of voter suppression legislation in the American South, but not only in the American South. So the negation of the Voting Rights Act provision is not the only thing going on here.
Mac Heller 03:29
But I was very struck by the provision of new laws regulating voting, solving problems that no one thought we had. And preventing a number of Americans from voting.
Mac Heller 03:44
I was also concerned about the allegations of widespread voter fraud that come with the territory. I'm against fraud. I'm sure you're against fraud, everybody's against fraud,
Spencer Graves 03:58
unless you are one of the beneficiaries.
Mac Heller 04:01
Let's find out whether fraud is actually occurring. So I started the American Issues Initiative to explore this issue and to undertake an inquiry as to whether there was widespread voter fraud, as to whether there was significant voter suppression, as to whether there was any link between the two, and undertook a period of study starting in early 2016 with the eye that I might study the issue for a while and then write a book on it, only to find in the first week or two of my research that a number of fabulous books had just been written on this topic. And any book by me would add nothing to this. These books would be among others.
- The voting wars by Rick Hasson. Rick is a professor at University of California Irvine.
- The Fight to Vote by Michael Waldman, head of the Brennan Center in New York.
- Give us the Ballot by Ari Berman, who is a very thoughtful reporter on the topic and a number of others.
- A number of books by a woman named Laurie Minnite, who is a professor at Rutgers and writes particularly thoughtfully and thoroughly on these allegations of voter fraud. And, again, I concluded that there was nothing that I could ever write, that would add to these distinguished volumes.
Mac Heller 05:41
But most of the people writing were academics. And what perhaps could be added was telling the human stories of the American citizens denied the right to vote and that the right medium for that might be a documentary film following those voters or would-be voters and telling their stories.
Mac Heller 06:06
And so that's what we did. I came at it with no background in film, but was fortunate to find Tim Smith, my Emmy Award winning colleague, who is a career journalist and documentarian. His Emmy is for a political documentary.
Mac Heller 06:28
And together, Tim and I built a team in mid-2016, and then organized to film the stories of suppressed voters in the 2016 election, which we did. We filmed in maybe six or seven states. And ultimately, the film is centered in four: North Carolina, Texas, Missouri and Wisconsin, Wisconsin being important, because it's not a southern state. And this is no longer a phenomenon of the historical South. Wisconsin indeed, where some of my relatives are from a generation or two back, used to be known as the seat of good government in the United States and very thoughtfully protecting the right of every citizen to vote. Not any longer. It's a hotbed of partisan dysfunction. And that's deeply disappointing to me.
Mac Heller 07:37
We also filmed in Kansas, which is in the film, mostly Kris kobach. We filmed in Georgia, but left most of that on the cutting room floor.
Mac Heller 07:48
We filmed in Philadelphia. The man who is now our president alleged that there would be fraud in certain parts of Philadelphia. And so we sent camera crews there. And there were camera crews from many other outlets there. And no one found any fraud.
Mac Heller 08:16
So, to our surprise, in addition to following and filming the stories of these suppressed voters, whom we present in the film, Karen Wilson McCoy -- there are many others but you tell a story best through a handful.
Mac Heller 08:32
We also came to know the people on the other side of this debate -- the people who are sure that there is widespread voter fraud and steps must be taken to combat it.
Mac Heller 08:48
And so in the film, we are embedded with the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina and spent substantial time with them. They invited us to ride with them in the car, film them in the office and out on the street looking for voter fraud. And we spent I don't know how many hours with those men. And they didn't find any voter fraud. But they, at the end of election day, give us their view that that just their failure to find any fraud just proves how widespread and devious it really is. And that I throw up my hands.
Mac Heller 09:32
But we're also with a sheriff in Texas who is absolutely sure that substantial voter fraud is taking place. And takes the extraordinary step of arresting a man for illegal voting. This man, whose name is Manuel Rodriguez, had a felony conviction and in Texas was unable to vote, didn't know that, went to the polls and said, Hi, I'm Manuel Rodriguez, can I vote? And the poll worker looking at the list and finding that name said yes. And he voted. The name happened to be the name of his grandfather, who at the time was in his late 90s. And I think he was 99. And so the poll workers made a mistake and confused 40 year old with 99 year old. But the one who's in jail is the 40 year old. And he seems to have been used as an example by the sheriff. Indeed, there's a deputy in the film who says, "I hope some of these other people who are thinking about voting illegally will look at this and realize that we're not going to get away with it." So Manuel is an example to the rest of the Latinx community in the small town in Texas, but in so
Spencer Graves 11:05
yes, right and very only the only those who would vote illegally according to the you know what you just quoted, right?
Mac Heller 11:13
Correct. Spencer, in the course of making the film, I began to jot down techniques of voter suppression that we came to find.
Mac Heller 11:29
Karen Wilson McCoy, who was presented in the film was improperly purged from the voting rolls. Improperly, because she received no notice of the purge, was still alive and living in the county. These purges are done on the basis that the person has either died or moved away. Karen had done neither and went to vote and was quite frustrated that she was not allowed to vote. But she didn't find she'd been purged until we told her.
Mac Heller 12:01
So I started to jot down these techniques: Have too few voting machines at the polling place, so the lines are long, have the hours be short, never have hours after work or on weekends when people who work an hourly job would be able to vote require extraordinary forms of identification that are inaccessible to some people. And I just started jotting them down. Each of these techniques is presented as a benign administrative element.
Mac Heller 12:44
The Secretary of State in Alabama required that people have a driver's license or equivalent in order to vote and then very quickly closed, I think it was 30 some odd, DMV offices across a section of Alabama called the Black Belt because it is predominantly African American. And when asked about this, he described it as a prudent cost saving measure.
Mac Heller 13:19
So there's frequently an excuse other than vote suppression or racial discrimination.
Mac Heller 13:26
But by the way, any of these techniques I'm describing before Shelby County versus Holder would have required Department of Justice approval. After Shelby County versus Holder the Secretary of State or the local board of elections or the sheriff can just do what they want.
Mac Heller 13:49
But I began to notice these techniques recurring. And I began to jot them down. And before too long, I realized that there was a pattern here. And other people must have a list that hadn't been publicized.
Mac Heller 14:04
So I just decided to keep tally. And the title of this document, as I have written it up is how to suppress the vote. Because I think there are local political officials out there who are wondering how can I suppress the vote, and they've heard about some of these techniques, but haven't heard about all of them.
Five categories of voter suppressionEdit
Mac Heller 14:28
And as you look at this list, you realize that it can be very well organized into five buckets spanning the process of voting from registration on the early end, to vote counting on the late end, and what are the five buckets? So if you want to suppress the vote, you should consider activity in any or all of the following five areas.
- Number one, make it difficult to register to vote.
- Number two, make it difficult to stay registered by purging names from the voting rolls.
- Number three, if you fail to purge the names make it difficult for people to vote.
- Number four, make it unlikely that that vote would be counted after it's been cast -- make it difficult for that vote to be counted.
- And number five, if the vote is cast, and counted, make the vote not matter. And the and the technique there is gerrymandering.
Mac Heller 15:37
And so under each of these, there are a series of other practices that have been developed and honed and tested through litigation and are quite effective.
1. Make it difficult to register to voteEdit
Mac Heller 15:53
Let me give you some examples. I won't go through all of these unless you've got all day. But when we talk about making it difficult for certain types of people to register, they're the things you already know about like closing registration locations in areas where you don't want people to register, reducing the days and hours. But it goes on from that. Don't allow same day registration, which is something many states have done, where people can register and vote on the same day. And all the documents are checked out before the vote is counted.
Mac Heller 16:29
But North Carolina, to take an example, has ended same day registration. Don't allow registration online. Don't allow pre registration of 16 and 17 year olds. Some states had had a program where kids in high school would be offered the opportunity to register to vote at age 16 or 17 in a government class or history or a civics class. Most civics class have been terminated for reasons we can only wonder about. And then when the kid turns 18 they're ready to vote.
Mac Heller 17:06
By the way, the number of 18 year olds in this country who have a driver's license is about 61%. So if you have a voter id requirement that that wants a driver's license, you're going to keep a lot of 18 year olds from voting. Anyway, you know, I could go on about barriers on formerly incarcerated citizens. And I'm just going to mention in any depth two ways to make it harder to register to vote.
Mac Heller 17:37
The first is requiring documentary proof of citizenship in order to register. And the second is constraints on registration canvassing drives. So Kansas passed a law requiring documentary proof of citizenship. That's usually a birth certificate. But it might also be a naturalization document. And other states have done this too: No documents, no registration. Well, some of us have our birth certificate and some of us don't. Some of us in America were not given a birth certificate at birth, perhaps because they are African Americans born in the south, not born in a hospital, and they just weren't given a birth certificate. And to get it requires time and money sometimes travel, frequently notarisation expense. Not everybody can do that.
Mac Heller 18:31
By the way, if you're female, and the name on your driver's license today is Jane Smith, but you were born as Janie Jones and then you married Bill White and divorced him and then married Joe Jones, to register to vote in Kansas under this law, you would need to provide your birth certificate, your marriage decree from your first name marriage, your divorce decree and then your marriage certificate from your second marriage, all the trace. So
Spencer Graves 19:08
That's no longer the law in Kansas. Right?
Mac Heller 19:10
It's been struck down by litigation but it's being appealed by the Kansas Secretary of State.
Spencer Graves 19:16
I know that there was a ruling in the appellate court in Denver that basically said that Julie Robinson, Judge Robinson was correct on all points.
Mac Heller 19:27
She found, Spencer, that the number of non-citizens who attempted to register, frequently by mistake, under certain multi year period of time in Kansas was, I think, three. But the number of eligible American citizens who were disenfranchised, kept from voting, was 30,000. And so she said the law fails. You know, the anti fraud groups use the words "election integrity" to justify what they're doing. I'm just trying to get more integrity in our elections.
Spencer Graves 20:07
Mac Heller 20:07
And when I think about election integrity, I think about making sure that every eligible American citizen has the right to vote. And if you prevent 30,000 Americans from voting in the state of Kansas, your election lacks integrity. If three non-citizens vote improperly, that too lacks integrity. But do the math 30,000 against three.
Spencer Graves 20:39
Right. To be very precise, I'm just reviewing that case myself, and judge Robinson's "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law", and Kobach introduced evidence that of 69 or 139 or whatever the number was, but some relatively small number of people he claimed were non-citizens who had registered to vote. After that list was checked, it came down to be 39 maybe fit those requirements that were non-citizens that seemed to have gotten registered, but against 31,000, as you said. And the 31,000 was like 12.4% of the voter registration attempts during the period. And some of them I think, even presented their documentary proof of citizenship, but it wasn't recorded because they were, you know, at a Motor Vehicle Bureau and the Motor Vehicle Bureau didn't have procedures for voting. One of them was born in a military hospital and the base was closed and the records were lost, right?
Mac Heller 21:59
So, Spencer, the studies show that if people go through the effort to register and are denied the opportunity, or if they do register and are purged from the rolls, the likelihood they will reregister, continue to pursue the process, is low.
Spencer Graves 22:19
Close to zero.
Mac Heller 22:20
And the perpetrators of these laws know that. It's a strategy to prevent people from voting.
Mac Heller 22:29
I'm going to move on to prohibitions or burdens on the canvassing process. This is new laws in Texas, Ohio. There was one proposed in Tennessee. And these are quite material. And again, they're presented as benign administrative matters, but their intent and effect is to limit registration drives. Registration drives are most effective in recruiting future voters who are young and poorer.
Mac Heller 23:06
So what do you do? Well, you require significant training for canvassers and then give the training only once a month. And then you allow the canvasser to operate only in the county in which he or she was trained. You allow only county residents to canvass in the county. So no out of towners allowed and nobody can canvass in two counties. You prevent canvassers from helping a registrant fill out the form. You require canvassers to submit registration forms within 48 hours. You disallow canvassers from keeping photocopies of the forms, and then they can't follow up with whether the registration ultimately was successful or not.
Mac Heller 23:53
And then, to cap it off, you do the following: If some brave registration group manages to register hundreds or even thousands of voters and submits those registration forms to the state board of elections. You, the Secretary of State, alleged that there are mistakes in, you know, 10 of 10,000 applications. These may be mistakes, but you call them fraud. And if Spencer misspells his name or his handwriting is not clear, Spencer may think that's a mistake. But the Secretary of State calls it fraud and announces a big investigation and impounds as evidence the thousands of registration applications that have been submitted. Those people are not registered. They don't know whether they're registered. And a big investigation is announced.
Mac Heller 24:57
Months later the Secretary of State quietly will mention that the registration investigation has been terminated with no criminal charges filed. But the point is to inhibit registration drives and to deprive thousands of people have their registration. This happened in Houston, Texas, in 2012. In Georgia, about the same time. In Indiana under Governor Mike Pence at about the same time. And so you put together those three things, and there are probably others. It's almost like somebody had a plan.
2. Make it difficult to stay registeredEdit
Mac Heller 25:40
I'm going to move on to number two, if somebody manages to register, purge their name from the voter rolls. And again, there are many, many ways to do this, but the predominant one is to purge people who have not voted in two federal election cycles. So if you were busy in 2016 and didn't vote, and then you didn't vote in 2018, because it was an off year election, you may find in my home state of Ohio that you've been cut. And in a recent, very interesting course of events in Ohio, Secretary of State had a list of 240,000 names to be cut. And the League of Women Voters said hey, why don't you give us the names -- and cut on the basis that that they've died or left the county -- League of Women Voters said why don't you give us the list, and we'll see whether any of these people should remain properly registered voters. And out of the 240,000 names about 35,000 you know, between 15 and 20%, were still alive, still living in the county, and upset that their right to vote would be taken away.
Mac Heller 27:04
So the state of Georgia has purged 1.5 million names over the last few years. Many of those names I'm sure are the names of people who are dead or have moved away. But just as surely many of them are not. In the film, as you know, we film a purge proceeding in Cumberland County, which is Fayetteville, North Carolina, in which in a county of little over 100,000 voters in a couple of separate sessions, the Board of Elections purge 6000 names so 6% of eligible voters. And as we were there, the process to decide to purge these names was minimal. Why was it minimal? Because it was originally set forth in a 1903 Jim Crow law designed, per the press of the times, to purge the few remaining African Americans from the voting rolls.
Mac Heller 28:27
And in light of the minimal process and lack of authenticated notice to the people involved, we decided to see if any of these names were the names of people who were still alive and living in the county. And we took a look at these numbers exactly right. But of the 6000 names 3500 were on one day that we show in the film. And of that we took about 2000 and a young person on our team in an afternoon of very rudimentary internet screening came up with a probably alive and living in the county list of over 300. And, which is not to say there weren't others, but this was the most obvious thing to him, and then still in that same afternoon, so this is not a high labor thing at this point, began to make phone calls and found all kinds of people who were still alive and living in the county. And Karen McCoy Wilson, presented in the film, is only one of them.
Mac Heller 29:08
And this is shocking to me. If you are on the Board of Elections, your job is to help eligible citizens vote not to profigately, negligently cut them from the voter rolls. So I was outraged by that purge proceeding. It's taking place in many states around our country. It won't shock anyone to hear that many of these are swing states, like North Carolina, like Georgia, like Ohio, the three I just mentioned. And this is a thing.
3. Make it difficult to voteEdit
Mac Heller 29:50
So I'm going to move to number three. If someone does manage to remain registered to vote, make it difficult for them to vote and this is tried and true. This is:
- Reduce the number of polling locations.
- Locate them away from poor neighborhoods.
- Reduce the number of machines.
- If you change the polling location, don't give notice.
- Don't have early voting.
- Don't have polling places on college campuses.
- Reduce the hours.
Mac Heller 30:23
And of course, the current favorite: Require government issued photo ID to vote, which on first glance seems to be about making sure people are who they say they are. And I think that's an appropriate goal to make sure that when Spencer comes in and presents himself as Spencer, he can establish that that's who he is.
Mac Heller 30:44
And by the way, this is not a new issue in election administration. People have been asking that question and getting the answer for decades. And the way that traditionally one gave the answer was by presenting an ID including government issued photo IDs, but government issue non photo IDs, like a VA card or a social security card, or presenting a bank statement or a utility bill or all three. And if someone is out to execute widespread voter fraud, it's really unlikely that they're gonna find bank statements, utility bills and non government issued photo ID from enough voters to swing an election. I've looked and I've never seen an instance of that.
Mac Heller 31:44
And you get under the covers, and this voter ID thing is much more about keeping some people from voting. It's solving an integrity problem that didn't exist. The instances of voter impersonation, my impersonation presenting myself as you at the polling places, are almost unknown. In North Carolina in 2016 out of almost 5 million votes, there was one case: A woman who voted for her mother at her mother's instructions; the mother had just passed away. And the DA declined to prosecute.
Mac Heller 32:22
So these laws are about -- about 10% of people in this country don't have a driver's license. And that number is higher for people who are poor. It's higher for people who are old. It's higher for people who are very young, and it's higher for people who are of color. And the designers of these laws know that. Voting -- compliance with stringent voter ID laws correlates with income. And the designers of these laws know that. So, in litigation over these laws, findings of the court, frequently uncontested by the designer, the defenders of the laws. In Texas, the number of people without voter ID law required by the ID laws passed by the legislature, and these people will were all registered voters. So registered voters who didn't have the right ID: 600,000. In Wisconsin: 300,000. In North Carolina: 400,000. In Pennsylvania: I can't remember four or 500,000 registered voters, citizens who did not have the requisite ID.
Mac Heller 33:41
And in North Carolina, the legislature asked which IDs people had. They asked how do people vote. And it turns out that people of color don't have certain IDs. And they tend to vote early, frequently on Sunday. So that's what the legislature cut.
Mac Heller 34:04
In Texas, the legislature had a list of IDs and who holds them. And government employee IDs, University of Texas IDs, differentially held by people of color in Texas, which is a majority minority state. But concealed carry licenses held 86% by white people. So concealed carry licenses qualify for voter ID purposes, but government IDs, government employee IDs, University of Texas IDs, don't. You think about the vetting that goes on before someone becomes a student at the University of Texas or employee of the federal government, and you see that what's going on here is very far from mere verification of ID.
Mac Heller 34:55
Part of making it difficult to vote is vote by mail, very important in this election. And what's going on now in many states, again, primarily centered in swing states is that advocates of voting believe that secretaries of state should take all of the following actions: Send a vote by mail application to every registered voter. Do not burden that application with a requirement that it be notarized or witnessed. Notarization costs a few bucks. Is that a poll tax? I think so. There is a signature match requirement, and so notarization and witnesses in a time of COVID: Not a good idea.
Mac Heller 35:58
Send those people an absentee ballot. Make it postage prepaid. If you want to cut younger voters out of a process, require them to buy a stamp.
4. Make it difficult to get your vote countedEdit
Mac Heller 36:12
And the fail rate on absentee ballots is substantially higher than on in-person ballots, usually because of signature match. State of Georgia, as you may know, had an exact match requirement for signatures. So if you registered as Spencer X. Graves, but you signed your absentee ballot as Spencer Graves, in Georgia that was a fail: Your vote doesn't count.
Mac Heller 36:43
And the fail rate on absentee ballots nationwide is about 1%. For voters of color, it's been about 2%. And the signature match has been a part of that. Finally, in terms of difficult to vote, with a vote by mail, it kind of leads me to number four of our list of five which is don't count the ballot. And so, just as absentee ballot applications can be rejected for failure of a signature match the ballot once filled out can be rejected because of absence of a signature match, or because it was received too late. Many people feel that a ballot postmarked by election day ought to be counted, as long as it's received within some reasonable period of time -- a week or 10 days. But in many states, the ballots must be received by election day, which has the voter dependant on the speed of the mail in his or her part of town. And it won't shock anybody to hear that mail service is slower in the poor part of town. But because of the signature match issue, a lot of absentee ballots won't be counted even after they're cast.
Mac Heller 38:08
So just briefly on number four, if they vote, then don't count the ballot. That can be absentee ballots signature matches but can also be people voting out of precinct. If you have always voted at the elementary school down the street, and you get there and somebody tells you that, no, you've been changed to some other place and you say, "Can I please cast a ballot here?" And they let you, in many states that won't be counted. It's called out of precinct voting. And they'll say that they gave you a notice, and you'll say you didn't get it. But those ballots are thrown away in many states.
5. Make your vote not matter through gerrymanderingEdit
Mac Heller 38:50
Finally, five. If someone succeeds in registering, succeeds and staying registered, succeeds in voting and succeeds in having the vote counted, make it not matter. Now, what could that possibly mean? It means gerrymandering. And gerrymandering is drawing district district lines, such that your district, via a state legislative district or a national congressional district, is safe for one side or the other. And if it's safe for one side of the other, why vote? I was looking at statistics from the recent Wisconsin State Legislature election in which of all the votes cast, the percentage cast for Republican candidates was 45% for Republican candidates across the state. And the number of legislators elected who were republicans was 67%. So 45% of the votes succeeded in getting 67% of the legislators through gerrymandering. What that means is that many of the Democratic votes were in districts that were packed, meaning 90, 95% of the votes in certain districts were cast for a Democratic candidate. And, obviously, many of those votes were, so to speak, wasted. Many of the Republican candidates were elected by 55-45 margins, or 60-40 margins. So fewer Republican votes were wasted. That's gerrymandering. And it's coming up again. There's a 2020 census that leads to 2021. redistricting nationally, every state. And there have been successful efforts in the past to do that by both parties. The Republicans at least in 2010, which I've studied in some detail, were much better at it than the Democrats. I don't support it by either party. I think it's a good idea to do what a number of states have done. Clean Missouri is an excellent example of this. But take the partisanship out of it. Delegate the redistricting process to a nonpartisan commission of some sort. That's been passed in Michigan through a citizen initiative. And the state legislature has been suing in Michigan to take it back from the citizen commissions.
Spencer Graves 41:34
In Missouri the state legislature put so-called amendment three on the November ballot, to overturn Clean Missouri, as they claim that they're, you know, trying to correct deficiencies that the voters didn't know what they were voting for in 2018, and so forth. One Republican legislator said that Clean Missouri was be devastating to Republicans. Republicans have as you know, similar to what you said and in other states, 71% of the seats in the legislature. And a poll showed that 48% of voters were Republican or leaning Republican or 45, I think, versus 38% Democratic or leaning Democratic. Okay? So 55% if you throw away, completely ignore, the undecided middle ground. All right, the Republicans had 55%. And getting from there to 71% sound like gerrymandering to me. And I'm going to look into that, right?
Mac Heller 42:52
So, Spencer, those are the five buckets:
- Make it difficult to register to vote.
- Make it difficult to stay registered by purging people off the rolls.
- Make it difficult to vote.
- Try not to count the vote.
- And then if the vote counts, make it not matter through gerrymandering.
Mac Heller 43:09
Those are the five buckets of voter suppression. There's a lot more kind of sub techniques, but those are the big categories. And it's happening in too many states in our country right now.
Spencer Graves 43:20
Yes. Yep. I'm reminded of -- I think I mentioned to you -- my bit on "Confirmation bias and conflict," in which I basically say that the mainstream media, the media organizations everywhere have a conflict of interest in reporting on anything that might offend someone who controls the money for the media.
Spencer Graves 43:51
And that works, because everyone prefers information and sources consistent with preconceptions. So you put those two together, and you get what we have, right? And I think that even the so-called liberal media have a conflict of interest in adequately covering the major problems that you have identified, because I think the big money interests, the people who control the first term, really do not want the electorate to be upset about these issues. That's a speculation, I don't have evidence for that.
Mac Heller 44:38
I actually believe that if every eligible citizen were allowed to vote, our decisions in our country would be better. I don't think any one person or any one group has all the answers. I don't think that all of my inclinations should rule the federal government. I think that "Out of many, one:" Out of many voices, one direction. And that voting is the key. The Supreme Court in 1886 said, "Voting is the single right preservative of all other rights." So if you feel the national government or your state government is taking a direction different from what most people feel on healthcare, or on gun rights or on taxation policy, or on education, on any number of issues, then think about whether the voting system is properly operating, whether the legislature has been gerrymandered, whether everybody who wants to vote is able to vote in your state? And take action.
- American Issues Initiative, Wikidata Q98114621.
- The Center for Media and Democracy have documented activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council planning voter suppression efforts of at least some of the types describe by Mac Heller. See Voter suppression and the American Legislative Exchange Council.
- The rejection rate may be higher this year but not dramatically higher, according to a report in The Washington Post saying, "More than 500,000 mail ballots were rejected in the primaries." They didn't express that as a percentage but did note that in "Philadelphia officials said 3.8 percent of ballots cast by mail for the June  primary were rejected" vs. 1 percent nationwide in 2016. See Elise Viebeck (23 August 2020), "More than 500,000 mail ballots were rejected in the primaries. That could make the difference in battleground states this fall.", The Washington Post, ISSN 0190-8286, Wikidata Q98807374.