Rigged elections are happening
By Rod Haxton, editor
As Donald Trump has continued to narrow his base of support down to the KKK, skinheads and birthers, it gets easier to dismiss most anything he says as the blathering of an idiot who can’t get the golden spoon out of his mouth.
He’s now warning supporters that if he isn’t elected President then the election must be rigged. That’s hardly different than if Kansas State University football coach Bill Snyder declared at a news conference next week that if the Wildcats lose to Stanford in the season opener then the officiating must be rigged.
If that were to happen, K-State officials would be preparing to ease Snyder into retirement. It hardly makes a wave within the insanity that’s become the Trump campaign.
Except . . . there is some truth to be found in Trump’s claim - only not in the way he intended.
Elections in this country are rigged. And rather than being outraged, we have almost accepted it as part of the political game.
The first gerrymandered voting district was created in 1812 by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry and political parties have since taken it to extremes.
Kansas isn’t immune. Following the 2010 census, the ultraconservative lawmakers in the state saw an opportunity to create districts that would allow them to strengthen their electoral position for years.
Moderate Republicans and Democrats prevented ultraconservatives from redrawing electoral maps that gave them a distinct advantage. It resulted in a stalemate that eventually forced House and Senate district maps to be drawn by an impartial court . . . as it should be.
But, the intent was clear. Ultraconservatives were trying to rig future elections.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach has become the master at “fixing” problems that don’t exist . . . like voter fraud.
By definition, voter fraud does occur on occasion - most often because voters are uninformed, not because they have some malicious plan to change the outcome of an election.
Kobach, however, has built a career by declaring voter fraud is epidemic. It’s so serious that in the past 1-1/2 years, Kobach has filed charges against six - count them, six - individuals. One of those charges has since been dismissed.
But, that’s only a minor distraction. The bigger prize for Kobach is the ability to keep people - primarily those who tend to vote Democrat - away from the polls.
There are currently some 32,000 Kansas voters whose status has been in limbo. A legal battle is being waged over whether about 17,000 of those who registered at motor vehicles locations should be allowed to vote.
Kobach isn’t just inflicting damage to Kansas, but he has helped get voter fraud laws enacted in other states with a similar goal of disenfranchising targeted voters.
Call it what you will, but it’s rigging elections.
The absence of a paper trail with some voting machines has made it all-too-easy to manipulate returns.
And even when there is supposedly a paper trail, that doesn’t guarantee that anyone will be allowed to follow it.
Wichita State University mathematician Beth Clarkson has done extensive study of elections and discovered an unexplained statistical anomaly in large precincts.
She feels some irregularities, along with servers that crashed in Sedgwick County, may have contributed to Gov. Brownback and Sen. Pat Roberts win ning very close elections in 2014. Clarkson has asked Kobach to release all the voting machine data that exists from the November 2014 election, but he has refused.
Given his almost fanatical pursuit of voter fraud, one would think that Kobach would be eager to clear the air of any doubt whether the election outcome was legitimate. Then again, it appears the concern over voter fraud only cuts one way.
Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin have successfully passed laws to limit the time when polls are open. The purpose is to limit weekend voting which favors low-income voters and blacks.
Republicans in North Carolina passed voter laws that were struck down by a federal appeals court which determined they were enacted “with discriminatory intent.”
They aren’t alone. Since 2013, nine states - all under Republican control - have passed measures making it more difficult to vote.
It’s called rigging an election.
Another way of deterring certain voters from casting ballots is to make them wait hours and hours in line. Many people simply lack the stamina, the time, or can’t miss work for that long in order to vote.
While examples have been documented across the country - that primarily target Democrat voting precincts - one of the most egregious occurred in Phoenix Arizona’s Maricopa County earlier this year.
This is the largest county in the state, yet election officials reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012 to 2016, from 200 to just 60 - or one polling place per every 21,000 voters.
Republicans see the future. The nation’s demographics are changing and it doesn’t favor the Republican Party.
Rigging elections is the only alternative for a party that lacks vision, is void of ideas and whose base is, quite honestly, dying off.
Kansas, unfortunately, isn’t immune. We must be diligent in protecting the integrity of our elections from the likes of Kobach and ultra-conservative Republicans.
Donald Trump had it right, but for the wrong reason.
Rod Haxton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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