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Letter: GOP legislators risk provoking a pro-voting-rights backlash

(Jim Watson | Pool via AP) Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, questions former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., as she testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a hearing to examine her nomination to be Secretary of Energy, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Why do so many Republican legislators, including Utah’s Senator Mike Lee, believe that restricting voter access to the polls will serve the interests of GOP candidates?

The claim that by doing so they are decreasing the threat of voter fraud has been thoroughly discredited. Even former Attorney General Bill Barr, a pro-Trump stalwart, acknowledges there was no significant voter malfeasance during the 2020 elections.

The 2020 presidential election had the largest voter turnout in our nation’s history. Nevertheless, the big blue wave which could have seriously threatened future Republican prospects did not occur.

Donald J. Trump, a seriously flawed candidate, received the second highest popular vote ever recorded. Biden won the Electoral College by margins of only 8,000-20,000 votes in key swing states. Surely by fielding a candidate more worthy of the public trust, the Republicans could regain the presidency in 2024.

The Republicans picked up nearly 20 seats in the House. They fell just short of holding a majority in the Senate due to run-off elections in Georgia.

Georgia is notorious for voter suppression — suppression which has inspired effective Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts and has encountered strong minority resistance. Minority voters, especially those who are descendants of former slaves, value voting rights perhaps more than any other Americans. Is it wise to further alienate them?

Don’t Republicans realize that their party’s open association with voter suppression will likely result in decreased funding from some major corporations and further decrease GOP support from women, from better educated suburban whites, from younger voters and from others who believe democracy is worth defending?

Why are Republican legislators so willing to run the risk of a pro-voting-rights backlash?

Andrew G. Bjelland, Salt Lake City

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