Rep-Am Editorial | The reality behind the ‘myth’

October 5, 2023

Waterbury Republican-American Editorial:


What Wall Street Journal columnist Jason L. Riley calls the “myth of voter suppression” is alive and well in Connecticut, where lawmakers meeting in special session last week failed – for all the wrong reasons – to pass a badly needed reform measure.


Sept. 26, the legislature approved Bill 7001, which included “granting the Secretary of the State’s office the authority to hire an election monitor for the upcoming November election in Bridgeport.” Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill Oct. 3. Amendments further boosting election integrity were rejected, however.


As detailed in a Sept. 22 editorial, video footage showed a supporter of Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim stuffing papers into a drop box for absentee ballots a week before the Sept. 12 Democratic primary. Challenger John Gomes piled up a lead of several hundred votes on Election Day, but Mayor Ganim won the primary after sweeping the absentee-ballot count by a 2-1 ratio.


There is no credible explanation for day-of-election voters and those who voted absentee having such vastly different opinions on the mayoral contenders.


During the Sept. 26 legislative session, Sen. Robert C. Sampson, R-16th District, offered an obvious solution: eliminate the drop boxes. 


He disputed the notion that this change would amount to voter suppression, since people who vote absentee simply can mail their ballots.


As the Yankee Institute’s Hartford Portfolio noted Oct. 3, “Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Windham, urged the chamber to vote against the amendment stating that other states use drop boxes, and that ‘we’ll go back to making it harder for people to vote.’”


The amendment supported by Sen. Sampson failed on a party-line vote.


As we noted Sept. 22, it seems that every time Republicans suggest a reform intended to protect the integrity of the vote, Democrats accuse the GOP of voter suppression. 


“Democrats insist that Republicans have made it harder to cast a ballot by passing voter ID laws, limiting the time frame for early voting, and reverting to pre-COVID-19 voting protocols now that the pandemic has subsided,” Mr. Riley wrote for the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal in December 2022. “But if that’s true, why has voter participation been rising, including among the minority groups that Democrats claim are being targeted for disenfranchisement?”


Therein lies the proof of Democratic Party perfidy. “Black voting rates have increased steadily since the Clinton administration, according to census data, even as more states have passed voter-ID laws that liberals say deter black voting,” Mr. Riley wrote. “In 2008 and 2012, the national black voter-turnout rate surpassed the white turnout rate, even in states with the strictest voter-ID laws.”


In fact, the current, lenient election standards in Connecticut seemingly had a role in working against the interests of minority voters in Bridgeport. Mr. Gomes, who immigrated with his family to Bridgeport from the Cape Verde Islands when he was 9; and state Sen. Marilyn Moore, a Black lawmaker who lost to Mayor Ganim under similar circumstances in 2019, may feel they were cheated out of their victories.


But it wasn’t the GOP, with a little more than half as many members as the Democratic Party in the Park City, that did the cheating.