With Joe Biden declared the winner of the 46th Presidential election, President Donald Trump has been making claims of voter fraud, often through his self managed Twitter page. The validity of Trump’s statements and actions have been under scrutiny throughout his entire presidency. Yet, the level of false claims of voter fraud after this election has been shocking. We have seen President Trump attack the legitimacy of mail-in ballots and the post office, claim “overvoting” in some states and accuse the widely used electronic voting system brand, Dominion of having corporate ties with the Clinton Foundation, Soros, and the country of Venezuela. None of these allegations have been proven to be true.
While we may be accustomed to hearing lies from our elected officials, the most frightening part of these false claims is the effect that they could have on voting rights. As it is, it is not easy for everyone to vote. Many restrictions have been enacted in the last decade such as eliminating same-day registration and redistricting. These laws disproportionately impact younger, less educated, and impoverished voters. They also disproportionately affect people of color, the majority of whom voted for President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. By claiming voter fraud, Donald Trump is delegitimizing numerous votes and subsequently taking the US a step backward in regards to voting rights.
Trump’s false claims of voter fraud are much more than another fib, they are paving the way for more voting restrictions. Trump’s actions will not change the outcome of this election, that is for sure. But, his actions will and have already started to impact voting access laws. In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has proposed several restrictive voting measures such as adding a voter ID requirement to mail-in voting for future elections and making it easier to challenge voter residency as a direct result of the traditionally red state being flipped blue (a result of work from Stacy Abrams, among others). Other officials have already started working on new laws to restrict voting. Since restrictive voting laws disproportionately affect voters of color, the same people who helped to put Joe Biden in the office are the ones who are going to be punished. While these changes will not change the outcome of this election, the ramifications of these baseless claims and tweets will be felt for years to come in future elections. These claims may very well be a way for Trump to feel better about himself and his failure, but they have real implications on people and their voting rights. Fewer people will be able to vote and fewer voices will be heard. We should be working to make voting more accessible to everyone rather than basing our voting laws on false allegations.