Election Deniers Lost To Democracy
In the weeks leading up to the election, there was reason for people to be concerned about intimidation, or about disinformation about the results. And the reason lies in the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 election.
“One of the foundational things that makes our democracy work is that when somebody loses an election, they’re willing to accept it and move on and just try harder the next time to convince voters and convince communities that they’re the right candidate, and they have the right policies,” says Gowri Ramachandran, the senior counsel at the Brennan Center, said at an Nov 11 EMS briefing.
Instead, fears that “Election deniers” and the “Big Lie” will dog this election did not come to pass and democracy won.
This did not simply happen by chance – it took a lot of work on the ground by activists and volunteers, especially those focusing on women and people of color. And it paid off.
Free and Fair Elections
There was a real sort of pro-democracy movement, observed Ramachandran, where most voters believed that elections should be free and fair. She was very gratified to see an outpouring of support for election officials, acknowledging that the people administering elections are friends, neighbors and community members.
A Brennan Center poll found that, “one in six election officials had themselves been personally threatened. Many of them were very worried about Poll Worker recruitment and staff recruitment in the face of all those threats.”
As a part of the election denier movement, there were efforts to convince voters that there is widespread fraud going on, even though there really was no evidence to support that theory.
Pushing back at Disinformation
A lot of effort went into keeping the system safe and resilient and ensure that people could vote with confidence and push back on disinformation.
“We had law enforcement leaders in some communities coming out and saying – intimidation of voters and of election workers is not going to be tolerated,” said Ramachandran.
With those resiliency measures being in place by election officials helped push back on the disinformation because on election day, 68% of voters believed that democracy in the United States was at risk in the election.
The election went smoothly because voters felt a bit more confident and secure in the voting process. For example, early voting and voting by mail helped the election go really smoothly said Ramachandran.
“There has been some sustained usage of those methods of voting, even as the pandemic has started and using those methods of voting really takes the pressure off on election day.”
Redistricting Impacted Communities of Color
Aggressive redistricting after the last census could have cost communities the opportunity for fair representation, but communities of color came out to challenge their gerrymandered districts, said Kathay Feng – the National Redistricting Director for Common Cause, at the briefing.
“All parties want to gerrymander to their advantage. “Let me just be clear, whoever is in power, that’s what they do. They cannot help themselves,” said Feng.
In states where redistricting is controlled by incumbents and politicians, despite the tremendous growth of Latino populations (Texas), or the significant black population (Florida), communities were sliced and diced up so that the growth was not represented or the historic representation was essentially dismantled, added Feng.
“So we see a significant difference between the states that have commissions of some form or another, and those that do not.”
North Carolina for example, has always been evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. The state legislature tried to gerrymander the state to get a partisan advantage for Republicans. Feng continues, “we brought a lawsuit and challenged it in court. The court said fair’s fair, let’s redraw those lines. And the state now has an even split between Democrats and Republicans.”
People of Color Stepped Up
It’s significant to note that in each of these states, says Feng, there has been tremendous participation by communities of color to come out and talk about their growth and to make sure that the lines are truly reflective of their communities.”
In upstate New York said Feng, the courts looked at redistricting lines and announced that they were gerrymandered along partisan lines, and ordered a special master to redraw the lines.
That created more opportunities “for Republicans to be able to challenge Democrats in seats, especially in your suburbs, or the rings around New York’s many cities,” said Feng. It was the main reason that Republicans were able to take control of Congress in New York state, long considered a stronghold of the Democratic party. They won 11 of the state’s 26 congressional seats.
Citizen Participation Makes a Real Difference
Citizenship participation in redistricting is critical, warns Feng.
“Redistricting is the plumbing of democracy. You don’t want to know what’s in there, you don’t want to look at it, it’s boring. And when it bursts, it’s a mess. And because so many communities participated in redistricting this time around, we saw a lot of that plumbing get fixed.”
Making real investments in voter education is the key to having elections go smoothly this time and in the future.
This election is over, but Marc Elias – a Voting Rights and Redistricting Litigator, warns that democracy is still under siege. His legal team is currently litigating 46 cases voting, election and redistricting cases in 17 states.
Democrats fended off the predicted Red Wave
Since World War II, midterms have cost the party in power an average of 28 seats but the Democrats fended off the predicted Red Wave.
Marc Elias – a Voting Rights and Redistricting Litigator, stated it succinctly. “The election deniers running for governor and secretary of state in key battleground states all lost. Many of those running for other offices lost as well.”
“Despite irresponsible calls to action by Trump and others, most of these losing candidates have accepted their defeat quietly, if not graciously.”
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