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OpinionColumnistsDan Janison

GOP partisans won't stop the spiel to limit ballot choices

Election officials examine absentee ballots on Nov. 7,

Election officials examine absentee ballots on Nov. 7, 2020, in Lawrenceville, Ga. A state proposal would include requiring IDs for absentee ballots for the first time. Credit: Getty Images via TNS / Elijah Nouvelage

False alarms about widespread election fraud have long served as an argument for new rules and restrictions on voting. After weeks of frivolous lawsuits, White House propaganda and fake "evidence," the Republicans' narrative about cheating proved a bigger burlesque than ever before. But red-state Republicans remain wedded to their spiel against "the steal" — clearly as a tactical defense against strong turnout among minority voters favoring Democrats.

Controversial new election "security" measures thus grow in the wake of Trump's big loss. In Georgia, where the GOP surprisingly lost the presidential vote and both U.S. Senate seats, the party's lawmakers are pushing to contain the early voting and mail-in balloting that allowed massive participation despite the coronavirus pandemic.

At the state Capitol, Republican Rep. Barry Fleming this month introduced legislation hours before a hastily called hearing. The measure would require IDs of absentee voters for the first time. It also would limit the use of mobile voting units and ban counties from holding early voting on Sundays, when "souls to the polls" turnout drives that are popular with Black voters often take place.

This is the same state where ex-President Donald Trump, after he'd lost, sought to browbeat its GOP election officials into changing vote totals in his favor. The demand was refused.

Next Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court is due to hear oral arguments in a pair of voting rights cases from Arizona, another battleground state that went to Democrat Joe Biden. The outcome could change the way courts view allegations of discriminatory voting rules.

One of the Arizona cases involves voters who do not appear on the rolls at a particular precinct and are allowed to use a provisional ballot. If a voter is found to be in the wrong precinct, the whole ballot gets tossed out, even if it was cast for statewide offices such as U.S. senator or governor. Democrats are challenging that policy.

The other involves a law against so-called ballot harvesting. Arizona makes it a felony to collect and deliver another person’s completed ballot, unless the intermediary is a family member, caregiver, mail carrier or an election official.

Legal schemes to stop Biden from assuming the presidency he won with a margin of more than 7 million votes failed so badly in courts that one Trump donor demanded the return of more than $2.5 million.

Financier Fred Eshelman, based in North Carolina, sent the funds to an "election integrity" group called True the Vote. The group privately assured supporters it was on the verge of revealing illegal Democratic election schemes — only to have the assertion collapse and be replaced by another hollow allegation, Eshelman's lawsuits suggest.

Recently a nonpartisan, nonprofit research corporation called MITRE issued an analysis that searched for but found nothing to support assertions that votes were fixed or faked in any of eight battleground states. There was "no evidence of fraud, manipulation, or uncorrected error," including in the performance of Dominion voting machines, the authors said.

Election fraud across America keeps proving very rare, according to the liberal Brennan Center for Justice, which proclaims on its website: "Voter fraud is unacceptable, but we must find solutions that address actual problems instead of imposing policies that make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to participate in our democracy." The controversy goes on uninterrupted by the Trump fiasco.