(NewsNation) — This is no time for games, but they are being played. Some are easy to spot and expose, one of them being the fake fact game.
Example: Republicans claim President Joe Biden is limiting oil drilling to appease green lefties and that is why gas prices are high. This is not true. Even if Biden were limiting permits, because companies are making huge profits, there is a world market and concerns that stem from the war in Ukraine that matter.
Here’s the game part: the idea that Biden isn’t allowing exploration is wrong.
From Vox in March: “The Biden administration has outpaced Trump’s in issuing drilling permits on public lands and water in it’s first year.”
From Politico on Wednesday: “President Joe Biden’s regulators have approved new oil and gas wells at a far faster pace than the Trump administration did during its first 21 months in office. The U.S. has also produced more crude oil since Biden’s inauguration than it had done during the equivalent period of former President Donald Trump’s presidency.”
Politico’s report added that under Biden, the United States “is still the world’s top oil and natural gas producer, as it had been under Trump, as well as the largest exporter of natural gas, gasoline and other transportation fuels.”
Republicans have spent millions telling voters the opposite, despite the reality. And the latest CBS News polls asking voters what they expect Republicans to do if they do well in the midterms found that a majority think they will increase U.S. energy production if they win, and they are winning these voters.
This is a game, and the Democrats are losing it even though they have the facts on their side. But that is not the real challenge.
My concern for the midterms is not the fake facts but a much darker possibility. My suggestion is that it is much more important that the results of the upcoming elections are accepted, rather than who wins.
Two reasons: Neither side will have the margins to force through any agenda, especially because the game is opposition. Practically speaking, it’s not as big a threat to you and your real interests as what may happen if there is a refusal to accept results. Several key races are almost certainly going to be close and that means the counts will take time, which is the enemy of confidence in this process. Any unknown is an issue.
We see the projection of this problem in a number of developing situations.
Armed poll watchers, many of whom are election deniers, are allowed closer in some places than free water is. You have lawsuits drafted and waiting for the slightest provocation.
You also have alleged fixes installed almost entirely by the right that do more to put the fix in an election than to fix any real security or fairness concern. U.S. states have enacted more than 30 new voting restrictions since 2020, supposedly to fix things, almost all by Republican state governments.
For example, what better way to make sure someone is who they way they are than requiring ID? Makes sense. Eleven U.S. states have imposed stricter voter identification requirements since 2020.
Unlike many democratic countries, the United States does not have compulsory voter registration through a centralized system. As a result, states must periodically review their lists of registered voters to ensure they are up to date, which spawns all the dead voter conspiracies.
Why not have everyone registered automatically? The same people who want to fix the system don’t like these fixes because they expand access to voting.
In Georgia, the state now requires voters who lack driver’s licenses or state ID cards to include in their absentee ballot application a photocopy of another government-issued ID, which many voters may not be able to easily produce. Before the law changed, absentee voters’ identities were verified by signature-matching.
Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger defended the law Wednesday on “CUOMO,” saying political parties can help people get IDs. But how many local and small towns have the resources to get to people and get them signed up? Is this difficulty and the high degree of chance that this keeps people from voting justified?
Studies point both to and away from the idea that requiring identification does or does not discourage turn out. There are very few voter fraud cases in this country. For all the imperfections, we do a pretty good job. Among the fraud, cases that would be cured by presenting ID are almost nonexistent.
Here is the key: Unlike in Europe, where government-issued IDs are universal, studies show that millions of voters in the U.S. do not have photo IDs. Which Americans? Native Americans and lower socio-economic groups, those who are less likely to have cars, less likely to have licenses, less likely to have government IDs and less likely to want to get them.
So, is this about security, or is it about job security by limiting access to those same folks?
Another huge, alleged fix that really seems to fix nothing are laws making it harder for voters to apply for, receive, or cast mail-in ballots. Since 2020, 19 states have done such that. Did we have a problem with mail-in votes? Was there verified fraud or mismatches? No. Rather, the problem was existed is that there were a lot of mail-in or absentee ballots that didn’t favor Trump and became a bogeyman for his supporters.
That led to the next fix: taking control out of the hands of impartial managers and giving more control to elected officials. Twenty-five states have enacted laws that shifted power away from traditional election managers and, in many cases, gave control to partisan actors. Advocates of the laws, who were mostly Republican, argued they would increase oversight of local election officials.
And the biggest, baddest game that is in place that guarantees that these elections wont be true representations of how we feel is gerrymandering.
In Ohio’s redistricting process, the state legislature passed in November 2021 a bill enacting a map of Ohio’s 15 U.S. House districts (passed by a simple majority and without bipartisan support). As a result, Republicans strengthened the “moderate Republican” districts and squeezed out the only Black majority district.
Advocacy groups and individuals filed lawsuits in Ohio Supreme Court. In January 2022, Ohio’s Supreme Court ruled the congressional map unconstitutional. In July 2022, the court ruled that a second proposed map was unconstitutional, but the ruling came too late to impact this year’s election cycle. Ohio voters are stuck with partisan maps that benefit Republican candidates in the upcoming election, even though the highest court says it’s not right.
That is the game. Some of it is hidden, some of it is ugly and obvious, and all of it matters. The side that complained the most also made the most fixes that didn’t help increase access. Fairness matters when it comes to the exercise of this most important franchise: voting.
For all the talk of “safer,” we don’t have cases from the last election that exist beyond the mouths of malcontents. So, what were they fixing? Problems, or outcomes?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.