Democrats and Republicans have opened a new front in the 2022 battle for control of Congress: competing to influence voting regulations in key states and tussling over how Americans cast their ballots.
The fight over elections usually comes after the vote, with the two major political parties and their affiliated campaigns going to court to contest the outcome or argue last-minute changes to standing law. However, that pattern has been turned upside down heading into the midterm elections. Democrats and Republicans plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to impact ballot access and how state and local governments administer elections.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee promises $10 million for a “voter protection campaign.” In addition, the Democratic National Committee is throwing in millions more in targeted electoral battlegrounds such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is planning a sizable, undisclosed investment of its own as part of a joint effort with the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee.
“The NRSC is making an unprecedented investment in voter integrity, securing elections, and fighting back against the Democrats’ big lie that any effort to protect elections is racist,” committee spokesman Chris Hartline said.
“Republicans have launched an unprecedented campaign to restrict voting rights but we are fighting back,” Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the DSCC chairman, countered in a statement.
The committee, he added, “will use every tool at our disposal to protect Americans’ right to participate in our democracy.”
The partisan fracas over voting regulations and ballot access is an outgrowth of the bitter 2020 election. Former President Donald Trump continues to level baseless claims the election was stolen, while other Republicans contend Democrats manipulated state election laws to benefit President Joe Biden. Democrats point to the majority of House Republicans who voted against certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory on Jan. 6 as proof the GOP tried to overturn the will of the voters.
Since then, Democrats and Republicans have traded charges and countercharges.
Democrats claim Republicans are practicing voter suppression by passing new laws to block historically Democratic voters, particularly blacks and Hispanics, from the franchise by limiting ballot access and cracking down on mail-in and early voting. Of the more than $20 million the DNC is investing in top electoral battlegrounds in the 2022 cycle, significant funds are being devoted to voter protection efforts, including paying for dedicated staff in the states.
“Republicans are investing in voter suppression,” DNC spokesman Daniel Wessel said.
Republicans say their efforts are based on assuring election security and voter integrity. The GOP points to efforts to pass voter identification laws and end the distribution of mail-in ballots to voters who have not requested them. Many red states, Republicans point out, offer more expansive early voting than blue states, especially after the passage of recent voting laws that Democrats criticize.
Earlier this year, the RNC formed what it calls the Committee on Election Integrity to “restore” transparency and confidence in elections, chaired by Florida Republican Party Chairman Joe Gruters. Like the DNC, the RNC is coordinating efforts with state GOP affiliates in crucial battlegrounds to deploy paid staff across the country whose sole mission is handling election integrity issues on behalf of the party.
Additionally, the RNC is training an army of volunteers to serve as poll watchers, beginning with in-person early voting. These foot soldiers also will help the GOP monitor ballot counting.
“The RNC legal team is executing strategic efforts to fight back against Democrats’ power grabs, defending common-sense election reforms in multiple states,” said RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer, detailing the party’s approach to using the courts. “We are completely invested.”
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Original Author: David M. Drucker