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What's Really Driving State Laws Aimed at Preserving "Election Integrity"?

The war against so-called voter fraud is a constitutional crisis in search of a problem.

The turbulent presidential election of 2020 put the United States’ electoral process under intense public scrutiny. Over a year after the results were announced, debates over vote fraud and voter suppression continue to divide the country. Greg Palast, Sharon Kyle, and Marjorie Cohn sat down with Roundtable to discuss the issue and related, intensifying policy battles.

In this segment, the panel tackles the intersection of race and voter suppression. Palast points out that some strategies meant to eliminate voter fraud have disproportionately affected people of color–particularly the strategy of eliminating duplicate names on voter rolls.

“They were taking out every guy named Jose Garcia, saying it's the same voter. There are 835,000 Garcias in America,” Palast said, pointing out that the history of colonization and slavery means people of color are more likely to share common names. “They used that specific system to knock off so-called double voters, but they removed everyone with a common name, which means voters of color.”

Kyle argues that the suppression of black and brown voters is a harbinger for more widespread voter suppression to come.

“They know that the weakest people, the black and brown people in this country, are the people to target. Eventually they're gonna be doing it to everybody,” Kyle said. “This is a shorthand way for this country to see whether or not we have a healthy democracy.”

Those strategies, Cohn argues, ultimately can serve to undermine basic legal protections.

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“By targeting black people and brown people, they are diluting the strength of people who vote democratic,” Cohn said. “When Democrats are in power, there is more protection for civil rights, reproductive rights, healthcare, education, workers rights and LGBTQ rights.”

Roundtable Participants:

Sharon Kyle, co-Founder and publisher, Hollywood Progressive

Greg Palast, author and journalist

Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Watch the full discussion below: