Still reeling from their 2020 presidential election loss, conservative Republicans met for their annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Florida late last week. And oh, did this year's CPAC have everything: a golden statue of Donald Trump reminiscent of the biblical golden calf, Nazi insignia displayed center-stage, and an appearance by the former president in which he continued to espouse election fraud and other 2020 election lies and conspiracy theories. In fact, a number of CPAC speakers continued to scream "voter fraud!" and claimed the system is so broken it's near-pointless to vote. So, is this how Republicans plan to win in 2022? By basically encouraging people not to participate?
The consistent voter fraud lies peddled by prominent members of the Republican party have done significant damage to their voter bases' trust in the voting process. According to a January 22-25 survey of 1,990 registered voters nationwide, only 32% of Republican voters believe the election was free and fair. While grassroots organizers, most of whom were Black women, turned out a record number of voters to give Democrats control of the Senate in two Georgia run-off elections, Republican-leaning counties saw a lower voter turnout — a byproduct of Trump's continued assertion that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged" and "stolen."
Simply put, it's nearly impossible to encourage Republicans to vote when the GOP continues to hang its proverbial hat on a lie that undermines voters' faith in the power of their vote. And that's intentional.
Rather than encouraging conservatives to vote, the GOP plans on making it even harder for Democrat voters — specifically Black people, who undeniably won the presidency for the Biden-Harris administration — to do so. Republican lawmakers in Georgia are pushing a slew of new voting laws that would make it harder for people to vote, including banning automatic voter registration, restricting the use of drop boxes for returning absentee ballots, and requiring an excuse to allow voters to cast absentee ballots.
In Arizona, GOP officials are also wanting to do away with no-excuse absentee voting and are seeking to require that signatures on all mail-in ballots be notarized. In Wisconsin, Republicans are trying to prohibit retirement homes or residential care facilities from encouraging their residents to vote and are attempting to require every absentee voter to request an absentee ballot for every election instead of simply receiving their ballots automatically.
But the fact that voter suppression remains the GOP's bread-and-butter election tactic is hardly surprising. The party has a long history of targeting marginalized communities with erroneous registration processes, voter purgers, poll closures and long lines, ballot restrictions, and discriminatory rigged district maps in an effort to curtail the vote. And it works: In the 2018 midterm elections, nearly 120 million eligible Americans did not vote. Last year, then-president Trump said the quiet part out loud during an appearance on Fox & Friends, where Trump discussed the $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief package, and Democrat-led efforts to make it easier for people to vote during the ongoing pandemic.
"The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you'd ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said. "They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of clawbacks. They had things that were just totally crazy and had nothing to do with workers that lost their jobs and companies that we have to save."
It is the political party constantly accusing their rivals of cheating that is hinging their future election wins on their ability to cheat as many people as possible out of voting. A "the boy cried wolf" reference would be appropriate here if that boy was also a low-key wolf-breeder.