On June 5th, a Top-Secret NSA report was leaked showing Russia had done much more than was commonly known in their attempts to influence the US Presidential Election in 2016. The Russians hacked a Florida based software provider that helped manage voter registration programs in several states. The media duly reported the potential problems this could create including people showing up and finding they were removed from the voting rolls or processes could be slowed to create long lines in targeted areas. The narrative we were asked to focus on was that there is no evidence any votes were actually changed and there was nothing to see here.
While admittedly there’s a lot going on in the news including daily new reports on Russian ties to the Trump campaign or the President’s erratic behavior. Upcoming testimony from James Comey and other intelligence officials outlining possible obstruction of justice by Trump. With all that’s going on, I want to stop a minute and take a look at what just happened. The press outlined the potential dangers without taking the logical next step to see if any of those things actually occurred? There were hundreds of thousands of people turned away from the polls. There were crazy long lines in many urban areas. These things were reported contemporaneously right after the election. How much would it have taken to link those events and at least question whether or not the Russians were successful in disrupting the voting process? I find it hard to believe that I’m the only one making this connection. There are only two other possibilities.
- The long lines and voters turned away raised no red flags because we expected to see precisely those things as a result of the voter suppression methods well known to be in place.
- People in power know… but don’t care.
I suspect a bit of both is true because the people most heavily impacted by the voting problems whether caused by Russians or Republicans, were Black!
There has always been a bit of complicity regarding the suppression of Black votes in America. Voting rights have always been a negotiation where Black voters were allowed a certain amount of power and no more. When first given the widespread legal right to vote, Black people in Mississippi and elsewhere began sending Representatives to Congress and started to touch upon achieving true power. Their voting strength was only possible due to the presence of Federal troops in the South. When withdrawn as a result of the Compromise of 1877, Reconstruction was effectively over. For every Voter Rights Act that was passed, there was a Supreme Court decision eventually gutting it. This is the history of our country. They giveth and they taketh away.
There is a pretense apparently acceptable to both Republicans, Democrats and the Supreme Court. It’s okay to have redistricting that nullifies Black votes if the reason is merely partisan and not racist. In other words, as long as they don’t call it racist, without regard to a racist effect, it’s not.
It’s very possible that Russian interference is hard to determine because what they may have attempted is exactly what current day Republicans and latter-day Democrats have done to curtail Black votes. Black voters have always faced externally imposed long lines, limited polling locations, reduced voting hours. While attempting to vote is no longer likely to get a Black person lynched. There are as many forces in play to limit their votes as ever before. If Russia wanted to influence the last Presidential election. All they had to do was imitate Republicans and inhibit the vote of those that those in power are willing to overlook.
The story of Russian influence on voter registration programs is already fading into the background. I wonder if it’s because the results are compatible with the greater design?
Feature Photo: youtube.com