How to cast doubt on an election you lost

During this year’s election, Alabama, Colorado, and Florida passed legislation to change the language in their respective constitutions from “every” citizen can vote to “only” citizens can vote. Although the bills have effectively changed nothing about who can vote in these states, the deceptive language these bills use is a tool for casting doubt on this election and future elections.

In my home state of Alabama, Senate Bill 313 was passed, amending the Alabama constitution “to provide that only a citizen of the United States has the right to vote.” This bill was sponsored by Republican Alabama State Senator for District 12 Del Marsh. Senator Marsh is a career politician who has represented this District since 1998, and has been the President Pro Tempore for the Alabama State Senate since 2010. His sponsorship of SB313 comes as no surprise given the bills he has sponsored and cosponsored before. In 2019, Marsh sponsored Senate Bill 397, which changed the State Board of Education from being an elected position to an appointed position. In the same year, he also co-sponsored Senate Bill 230, which would’ve allowed for the decriminalization of bribery to public officials and “required” lobbyists to self-report their “donations” or be fined for $5000 had the bill not fallen through. Marsh’s SB313 writes into Alabama Legislation the implication that non-citizens were previously able to vote allowing the Alabama Republican party to cast doubt on future elections if the need arises. Needless to say, Senator Del Marsh is not a politician who is concerned about his constituents, but rather keeping his allies in power while lining his and his political allies’ pockets.

A spokesperson for Senator Marsh stressed in an official statement about SB313 that “ensuring that we have fair elections is more important now than ever.” This statement carries the implication that elections have become less secure, something Republicans like Marsh have been using to scare constituents with for years. In 2017, Fox News claimed that millions of “illegal immigrants” voted in the general elections in 2008 which led to Obama’s victory. This claim laid the groundwork for the new legislation in Alabama, Colorado, and Florida. With the public already doubting the security of the election process from the start, Republicans had the intention to blame their political opponents for participating in illegal activity that led to Republican losses.

Following the projections of his defeat in the 2020 Presidential Election, President Donald Trump wasted no time in making major claims about the security of this year’s election and further claims that Democrats fraudulently stole the election from him. He speculated that there was a vast amount of ballots being dumped into polling locations against him, that there were “millions and millions” of illegal ballots, and that there were glitches in voting software that switched many Trump votes to Biden votes. Although Trump claimed the election was plagued with fraud, a statement from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency argued the opposite, that the election was “the most secure in American history.” Additionally a recount in Florida District 37’s State Senate race led to a Republican win which allows Republicans to claim other state losses may be fraudulent. The deceptive language in SB313 and similar legislation in Colorado and Florida is not changing how people vote, but rather how citizens view the security and legitimacy of their elections. That is how Donald Trump and his allies are trying to remain in power and undermine our democracy.