Op-Ed: A big reason the South goes red? Gerrymandering and voter suppression.
For years, the Republican Party has done everything its power-hungry leader could to take control of the state government and, as a result of that, to make it impossible for Democratic voters to exercise their right to vote.
But the worst attack on voting rights in recent memory was the GOP’s “gerrymandering” of state legislative districts.
In the most recent election, the GOP won control of 16 of the state’s 23 districts — in many of them, the GOP actually won more votes than they received.
In those districts, many voters saw their vote count for nothing, or they didn’t even bother to vote.
The GOP’s success at taking control of so many state legislative races stems in part from its success at suppressing turnout. When a voter doesn’t show up to the polls, the voting machines don’t know who voted, or, in many cases, the votes are simply counted and counted again (so that the vote total doesn’t become even or odd), and that’s that.
Because Republican legislatures have done such a great job of suppressing turnout, for the first time in a generation the GOP has a clear, easy victory in the state legislature: If turnout were the same in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the GOP would have lost 17 state legislative seats between 2011 and 2016.
The results here are clear:
In Georgia, for the first time ever, voters did not have the option of casting their vote by machine.
In Alabama, voters still had to show up at the voting booth.
Voter turnout sank to 38.2 percent, the lowest in two decades.
In Louisiana, turnout was 36.9 percent.
In Virginia, turnout fell to 32.4 percent, the lowest since 1996.
In Ohio, turnout was the lowest in 35 years.
In Michigan, turnout was the lowest in 28 years.
In Washington state, turnout was the lowest in 43 years. Even in 2011, turnout was only 38.9 percent.
And in Minnesota, turnout was only 38.