In a continuation from Trump's Do-As-I-Say-Don't-Say-As-I-Do approach to mail-in voter ballots, the Republican National Committee has sued the state of California in an effort to stop their vote-by-mail outreach ahead of November's election.
The suit comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, announced this month that the state would move to encourage all voters to cast their ballots by mail in November — the most widespread expansion of vote-by-mail that has been announced as a result of the pandemic and in the nation's most populous state.
The RNC's lawsuit challenges that step, marking a significant escalation in the legal battles between Republicans and Democrats that are currently being waged in more than a dozen states.
"Democrats continue to use this pandemic as a ploy to implement their partisan election agenda, and Governor Newsom's executive order is the latest direct assault on the integrity of our elections," said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in a statement.
"Newsom's illegal power grab is a recipe for disaster that would destroy the confidence Californians deserve to have in the security of their vote."
To be clear: encouraging people to vote is not a power grab. Nor is it illegal. It is, in fact, a core tenet upon which the foundation of a functioning democracy — even a Representative Democracy! — is built. Curiously, it's also one of the only issues that make Republicans err on the side of extreme caution, infringing on clearly-stated Constitutional rights just in case a single vote ever goes awry. Extrajudicial policing? Gun violence? Spreading COVID-19 at the barbershop? "Look, these things happen," they say, "something something personal responsibility." But trying to establish a functioning democracy in which everyone has a voice, it suddenly becomes a major preventative issue.
Sometimes locking down your own power base by any means necessary is more important than literally anything else.
In the face of the looming threat of coronavirus, voter registration numbers have plummeted as fewer people are finding themselves in the situations — DMV, outdoor festivals with solicitation booths, etc — where they could be encouraged to register if they hadn't done so already. As a representative from one voter outreach organization explained to NPR:
"We're not able to walk the neighborhood streets. We're not able to set up tables at community centers and places where it's easy to reach people in [the] community. So organizers have still continued to do the work around engaging folks. It looks a lot different."
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams — a Republican — added that, after 7,000 Kentuckians newly registered as voters in February, only 500 registered in March. "People can still register, the government's not closed, but without that personal contact, with people encouraging their friends to register, that's why we've seen such a big drop-off," he explained.
If you can't rely on troll armies of meme'd disinformation to guarantee your victory, you may as well just cut off all the people whom you're running to represent.
Republican National Committee sues California to halt vote-by-mail for November general election [Abby Phillip / CNN]
Trump calls mail-in ballots "corrupt" but reiterates that it's fine when he does it [Thom Dunn / BoingBoing]
Pandemic Puts A Crimp On Voter Registration, Potentially Altering Electorate [Pam Fessler / NPR Morning Edition]
Image: Public Domain via U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Ryan Sparks. Because nothing says "Support the Troops" like infringing on their right to vote in a democratic process that decides their fates.