Protestor holds a sign reading "Our votes did not count."

What You Need to Know About the Republicans Currently Undermining Democracy in Michigan & Wisconsin

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Following the Democrats’ successful turn in the recent midterm elections, Republicans in some states are doing everything they can to change the rules and limit power for the incoming leaders. Rather than respect the decisions of voters, these “lame duck” Republicans (the term for officials who have been voted out of office but still have time to serve before their replacements are sworn in) are using their last few weeks in office to make it harder for Democrats to enact change.

In Wisconsin, the legislature is controlled by Republicans, but their governor and secretary of state flipped red to blue in November. Last night, that legislature voted to not just limit Democrats’ power, but to actually make it harder for people to even vote.

As Mother Jones reports, the new legislation limits incoming Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ ability to make “administrative changes” to state laws and from making “key legislative appointments.” Those lawmakers also approved more than 80 last-minute appointments made by outgoing Republican Governor Walker, so last-minute that many of them never even received a hearing.

The legislation also prevents the new Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul from withdrawing from federal lawsuits without their approval. Do we think that has something to do with Wisconsin’s participation in a multi-state lawsuit from Republicans attempting to invalidate the Affordable Care Act? Yes, of course we do.

The legislation also limits the state’s early voting period to two weeks. Currently, each county has the power to decide their early voting terms, and many Democrat-dominated counties have a six-week period to vote early.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, the legislature will also remain in control of Republicans, but the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state will all be Democrats for the first time in nearly three decades. So the Republicans there are scrambling to limit their power as well.

“Republicans who control Michigan’s Legislature voted Wednesday to advance a measure that strips campaign-finance oversight power from the Democratic secretary of state-elect, and they moved to give lawmakers authority to stand up for GOP-backed laws if they think the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general are not adequately defending the state’s interests,” writes the AP.

Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson ran on a platform of election transparency, so the legislature basically changed the rules so that that is no longer included in her job description. They’ve also voted for legislation that would undermine the new attorney general, allowing Legislature, House or Senate “to intervene in any suit at any stage.” Michigan Republicans have also passed last-minute bills to gut the minimum wage and paid sick leave. All of this has been pushed through in only the last few days.

Oh, and over in North Carolina, Republicans are embroiled in a major election fraud scandal. In two counties, one with a majority Black population, the other largely Native American, a huge number of mail-in ballots weren’t returned. Multiple people have come forward to say they were hired to go to people’s homes and collect ballots (which is illegal), all of whom were hired by a campaign operative with a known history of criminal behavior.

All over the country, Republicans are so angry that they lost the last election that they’re finding ways to undermine not just their opponents, but voters as well. That’s not normal, and it’s certainly not representative of the sort of patriotism the GOP seems to think they have an exclusive claim to.

(image: Sarah Rice/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.