Only once since the 1988 election has a Republican candidate for president won a majority of the popular vote. In once dependably Republican Arizona and Georgia, Democrats now hold both U.S. Senate seats in each states. If not for years of gerrymandering by GOP majorities in various state legislatures, the increasing minority status of the Republican Party would be abundantly apparent.

Republican politicians are certainly aware of their endangered status in a country where older white voters, the base of their party, are a smaller and smaller proportion of the electorate. In response to this, they could choose to shift toward being a more inclusive party attracting new types of voters. Instead, they are opting to suppress the votes of citizens who cast ballots against them.

In at least 36 states, Republican legislators have introduced close to 200 bills that would undermine voting rights. They are making the bogus argument that putting limits on the right to vote is necessary because so many of their constituents do not trust that the electoral system is fair — a wildly preposterous excuse, given that those doubts were created by Republican lies about the election being stolen from Donald Trump.

Despite zero evidence of significant voter fraud, the legislation aims to cut way back on early voting, on Sunday voting, on mail-in ballots and on ballot drop-off locations, and to impose identification requirements well beyond standard measures of checking a voter’s eligibility. And, unsurprisingly, the key targets of these measures are Black Americans and other non-white voters who are the most reliable supporters of Democrats.

This attack on hard-won voting rights is a blatant attempt to return to darker times in America when the vote was denied to minorities, not just in the Jim Crow South, but in many regions of the country. And there are two words that characterize what these Republicans are up to: systemic racism. 

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