‘Rigged’ of Not, Election Positions Trump to Shape Rules on How You Vote

‘Rigged’ or Not, Election Positions Trump to Shape Rules on How You VoteBy Michael Wines

Dec 2 2016


After an extraordinarily contentious election, crucial elements of the rules that determine how Americans vote will be under assault from conservatives and facing legal challenges heading toward the Supreme Court as Donald J. Trumpprepares to become president.

Mr. Trump’s claims of a “rigged” election — made before he won — and his false declaration after his victory that “millions of people” voted illegally for Hillary Clinton made headlines.

They also amplified longstanding Republican claims that rampant voter fraud justified a welter of state laws making it more difficult to register and vote. Democrats say the laws are not about combating fraud but about suppressing the vote of minorities and other Democratic-leaning constituencies.

Mr. Trump will have enormous power to shape future policy on voting.

“The last time we had a national government that was as hostile to the protection of minority voting rights as we may have with this president was probably near the end of the first Reconstruction” after the Civil War, said Pamela S. Karlan, a Stanford University law professor, who was a deputy assistant attorney general under President Obama until 2015.

“There are still strong Republican protectors and champions of voting rights,” she said. “But they don’t seem to have the whip hand in their own party.”

Such concerns could prove overstated. Beyond warnings of fraud, Mr. Trump has offered little specific about his views on voting rights. Four Trump transition officials did not reply to emailed requests for comment.

One conservative scholar of election law, Hans A. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, called the worries “way overboard.”

“The emphasis may be a little different,” he said. “But this idea that when Republicans come in, they’re suddenly going to stop enforcing the Voting Rights Act and other laws — the evidence doesn’t bear it out.”