A Democratic super PAC is among the latest to join the chorus of leftist big-money groups trying to convince Americans voting is too difficult.
Through Election Day, Priorities USA is spending $15 million to fight supposed "voter suppression," the unicorn Democrats trot out for two reasons: to delegitimize elections they lose and to scare people about anti-voter fraud measures. It joins other groups that have already spent millions creating a false narrative that reforms designed to protect the integrity of elections are somehow tantamount to "Jim Crow 2.0."
It's nonsense, of course. In fact, it's very easy to register to vote and easy to cast a ballot across the United States. Indeed, voter ID laws enacted over the years and recent state election reforms have never reduced voter participation.
But leftist groups like Priorities USA continue falsely claiming that reasonable measures to keep elections honest will do just the opposite.
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Former Obama White House staffers Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney launched the group after the 2010 midterm elections. It spent $66 million in the 2012 election cycle and $117 million in 2016. Top Democratic Party donors such as George Soros, Fred Eychaner, Donald Sussman, and James Simons have been the organization's largest funders.
Now, Priorities USA is targeting battleground states, spending $10 million on litigation and $5 million on digital ads.
The ads are as condescending as they are false. One pairs an annoying jingle with this message: "it's almost time to vote, but if you don't know what to do, we've got the answers for you." Most Americans know how to vote and certainly don't need "answers" from Democratic operatives.
Priorities USA also is intervening in existing election litigation in Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania and has initiated lawsuits in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Nevada.
These lawsuits challenge rules regarding ballot drop boxes, ballot harvesting, voter ID and signature-match requirements, and the maintenance of accurate voter registration lists. In every instance, Priorities USA opposes measures designed to prevent fraud, which the Left claims doesn't exist—despite plentiful evidence that it does.
Just last month, more guilty pleas emerged in a sprawling voter fraud case that overturned a North Carolina congressional race in 2018. Also, last month, a former Democratic congressman was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for leading an election fraud ring in Philadelphia that involved old-fashioned ballot box stuffing.
Priorities USA is far from alone in promoting this bad-faith election scheme. Other big-money interests have promoted voter suppression hysteria.
After losing the Georgia governor's race in 2018, Stacey Abrams claimed—without evidence—that she was the rightful winner. She launched Fair Fight Action and Fair Fight PAC to peddle voter suppression conspiracy theories. Each drew big knocked down the many absurdities in a lawsuit brought by Fair Fight Action. The Obama-appointed judge ruled that the plaintiffs provided no evidence that even one voter was unable to vote, experienced longer wait times, or was confused about their voter registration status as a result of the Georgia exact-match requirement in effect during the 2018 election that Abrams lost by 55,000 votes.
The Arabella Advisors dark money operation has also pushed this myth through various organizations such as the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, the Fair Elections Center, and Voting Rights Lab.
While Abrams became the national spokesperson for the voter suppression myth, its longest-tenured propagator has been the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal think tank housed at New York University. Among donors that have contributed millions to the Brennan Center are the Tides Foundation, the Kohlberg Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Public Welfare Foundation.
The Brennan Center claims that Republican-controlled legislatures in 20 states have enacted 42 "restrictive" voting laws, most of which will go into effect for the 2022 midterms. The center's report refers mostly to state election reforms passed last year. The laws varied, but generally extended voter ID requirements to absentee ballots, curbed ballot harvesting, and cleaned voter registration lists of the names of people who have moved out of state or are dead. These can hardly be considered "restrictive" for the American voter.
Until the November election, the best test of whether these reforms result in "voter suppression" or better access to secure elections is the 2022 primaries.
Of the three states with election laws the Biden Justice Department sued over: Georgia had a 168 percent increase in voter participation in the 2022 primary, compared to its off-year primary in 2018; Texas had a 17.7 percent turnout this year, compared to 17.2 percent in 2018; and the 2022 Arizona primary had a record high primary turnout of 35.12 percent, up from 33.3 percent in 2018. If this is the trend, general election turnout could be historic—the exact opposite of the claims in Priorities USA's "voter suppression" campaign.
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Anti-fraud laws are not about preventing voting. If they were, they would clearly be a miserable failure. But it takes big money to spread a big lie, and Democrats have invested a lot in this one. So don't expect them to give up on it because of a big November turnout.
In the 2000s, when states began enacting voter ID laws, Democrats cried voter suppression and made hyperbolic Jim Crow comparisons. But voter ID just makes sense to most Americans, which is why polling shows about two-thirds of them across demographics support ID laws.
A National Bureau of Economic Research study from 2019 examined a decade of turnout data from across the country. It concluded that voter ID laws have "no negative effect on registration or turnout, overall or for any group defined by race, gender, age, or party affiliation." The same study also found no negative impact from voter list maintenance, which Democrats have called "purging."
Yet Priorities USA continues to sue over both ID requirements and list maintenance. It continues its multi-million-dollar ad campaign falsely insinuating that Democrats are rescuing helpless Americans from the alleged menace of GOP voter suppression.
The cry of voter suppression is bogus, an empty partisan talking point. But the Left won't let go, if only because it's proved to be such an incredibly lucrative fundraising pitch.
This piece originally appeared in Newsweek