116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
In a political miracle, no voter fraud ever takes place in a state legislative district won by a conservative. They all claim, if asked, that they were elected fair and square. But many who must believe in the tooth fairy, that the earth is flat, and the moon made of green cheese still believe that, in Trump terms, there was widespread voter fraud in 2020.
Voter fraud is built on fiction with less proof than a disappearing tooth or people falling off the edge of their neighborhoods. Yet more than a dozen states are busy with what can only be called, generously, voter suppression. Iowa is one; the governor leading the way, conservative legislators in lock step behind her.
That is really not our American way. Fewer is not better. We have expanded the right to vote since our beginning. When our country began, only white male landowners could vote. It took marches, protests, even death over decades to enfranchise former slaves, women and people of color.
Our history is precious and clear. Democracy means more people casting ballots. We made voting easier for all: voting by mail, early voting, convenient polling places, changing technology to record and count. Manipulative party bosses voting the dead have gone the way of Model T Fords.
Yet, today, over a dozen state legislatures are at work to make voting difficult. They speak from the same script prepared by distant bigots and near-autocrats. They are parrots, not patriots. Their unspoken, but real, view is simple: too many voters mean Democrats win too often. It means a Biden, not a Trump.
Florida is a good example of fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. With 77 percent of eligible voters voting, the current system seemed more than adequate and in need of no change. Men and women voted. Black and brown and white voted. You could live at Mar-a-Lago or in a shack with no indoor plumbing and you could vote. Republicans still usually won, but apparently to avoid widespread fraud, the legislature tightened early voting, eliminated many drop boxes, threatened to fine election officials $25,000 for doing their jobs with honesty.
Unfortunately for us, Iowa Republicans in the legislature are in lockstep with Gov. Reynolds. It is an insult to all Iowans to act like our elections have been somehow dishonest, manipulated, or untrustworthy.
To avoid non-existent fraud, they would cut poll closing from 9 p.m. to 8 p.m., cut time off to vote from three hours to two, cut absentee ballot request time almost in half. That is voter suppression, no matter what the Governor calls it. Yet not one sleazebag intent on fraud will be deterred by those changes.
The ultimate fraud is lying about our most precious right in order to gain partisan advantage. If we are going to mess with democracy in 2021, a simple way would be to limit the right to vote to white male landowners. That, at least, is honest and has a historic basis.
A longer-term threat also exists. Republicans are fighting Republicans. Fair minded secretaries of state, like Brad Raffensperger, a lifelong Republican, in Georgia, are being challenged by fraud believers. Similar cleansing efforts are underway in Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan. There will be more in the ultimate widespread fraud: voter suppression.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary.