Suppressing Votes Just Another Day at the Office

When I said yesterday that the right to vote was increasingly being treated as a partisan political game, I had no way to know that a very prominent Republican politician would supply an instant illustration, per a report from the Bergen Record:

Governor Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they’re the ones controlling “voting mechanisms” going into the next presidential election….

Governor Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they’re the ones controlling “voting mechanisms” going into the next presidential election.

“Would you rather have Rick Scott in Florida overseeing the voting mechanism, or Charlie Crist? Would you rather have Scott Walker in Wisconsin overseeing the voting mechanism, or would you rather have Mary Burke? Who would you rather have in Ohio, John Kasich or Ed FitzGerald?” he asked.

Brother Benen commented archly:

I’m not sure which is worse: the prospect of Christie making these remarks without thinking them through or Christie making these remarks because he’s already thought this through.

In theory, in a functioning democracy, control over “voting mechanisms” shouldn’t dictate election outcomes. Citizens consider the candidates, they cast their ballots, the ballots are counted, and the winner takes office. It’s supposed to be non-partisan – indeed, the oversight of the elections process must be professional and detached from politics in order to maintain the integrity of the system itself.

So what exactly is Chris Christie suggesting here?….

[P]olitical scientist Norm Ornstein paraphrased Christie’s comments this way: “How can we cheat on vote counts if we don’t control the governorships?”

Yep, Republicans are treating the right to vote as discretionary, depending on their party’s needs, which makes voter suppression just another day at the office.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.