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The GOP’s attack on voting rights began when a swayback nag trudged down main street USA pulling a dilapidated wagon with lettering on the side announcing Dr. Trump’s Rigged Election Remedy.

In one state capital after another, lawmakers stepped up and made their purchases, although they knew the “elixir” could easily be exchanged for dishwater with no harm done, except to the dishwater. They went home and poured the stuff down the drain, then publicly claimed it had cured all their ailments.

And that’s how our sacred right to vote came under relentless attack from Donald Trump and his band of sycophantic toadies. Only a change in the senate filibuster rule will set things right. Despite a complete absence of cooperation from Republicans including Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Democrats are willing to step up and fix the mummified rule. That is, most Dems are willing. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is yet uncertain as to whether it is better to have free and fair elections or to give a random U.S. senator the authority to stop business in its tracks.

A fellow asked whether, in another era, Manchin would have defended the filibuster even if doing so would have denied women the right to vote. It’s a fair question, given both Manchin’s affinity for the filibuster and Republican-controlled legislatures’ flurry of laws designed to make voting more difficult.

Arkansas, New Hampshire, Montana and Wyoming have created new barriers to voting in person, and mail in voting has been targeted, as well, even though there is no evidence that voting by mail has ever resulted in fraud that would have changed election results. Voters in Georgia, Iowa and Kansas now will have to request a mail in ballot rather than receiving one automatically. Republicans in Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arkansas either shortened the time to apply for a mail in ballot or reduced the window of time to return it, or both.

Georgia, Florida, Indiana and Iowa have reduced the number of ballot drop boxes. Arkansas, Texas, Iowa and Georgia Republicans have downsized the number of days of early voting and at least 10 other states have such laws under consideration. A new Georgia law makes it illegal to give food or water to people standing in voting lines, and the lines will be longer because they have reduced the number of polling places.

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The purpose of each of the new laws is to make voting less convenient, particularly for people who can’t risk time off from work to vote. And voting will be more difficult for disabled folks and for people who can’t easily afford childcare while waiting in those lines. Most such folks trend Democrat in their voting. Which is the point of each new law.

Perhaps the most astonishing effort to undercut election integrity occurred in Arizona where, incredibly, Republicans pushed a bill that would have given them the ability to reject the Electoral College slate chosen by the voters and instead appoint their own electors. Fortunately, that bill didn’t make it into law.

In the 2021 session of the West Virginia Legislature, Republicans introduced bills to shorten early voting days (including elimination of a Saturday), require a photo ID rather than another valid form of identification and a bill to restrict mail in voting. Those bills failed.

All of this dishwater is being bottled and sold minus any voter fraud that would have changed the outcome of the 2020 election. It was Trump’s own Attorney General William Barr who determined that.

Now Manchin is having difficulty deciding whether to save our constitutional right to vote or to let stand a not-so-sacred senate rule that in the past has been changed for good reasons. He said last week that he would consider changes to the filibuster but only if there were some support from Republicans which they, including Capito, refuse to give.

Good grief.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. Reach him at wyatt@marshall.edu.

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