On November 6th, Democrat Lindsey Williams won a tight election race against Republican Jeremy Shaffer for Pennsylvania’s State Senate District 38. The defeated Republican conceded the race, and has not changed his concession:
After an extremely tight race in Pennsylvania State Senate District 38, Republican Jeremy Shaffer has conceded, declaring Democrat Lindsey Williams the winner.
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 received word of Shaffer conceding directly from him around midnight Wednesday.
“This was an extremely close race that was decided by just a few tenths of a percentage point,” said Shaffer, “and there were some forces at the top of the ticket that you know we ran nearly 20 points ahead our top of ticket. “But unfortunately that was not enough for the district for this night.”
Shaffer wished good luck to Williams in the work she’ll do in Harrisburg.
He said now he’ll likely spend time with his family and continue to do work for Ross Township.
However, despite Lindsey Williams’ victory, the Pennsylvania GOP maintained their majority in the Pennsylvania State Senate, and are using that power to refuse to allow Lindsey Williams to assume her seat on the state senate.
In November, Lindsey Williams defeated Jeremy Shaffer to become the Pennsylvania senator for the 38th state Senate District. She won by a narrow margin, but she won, and Mr. Shaffer conceded. The voters have spoken. Yet Senate Republican leadership is threatening not to seat her on Jan. 1. They made her submit proof that she meets the residency requirement to serve as a Pa. senator. Ms. Williams just submitted 97 pages of documents in response (Dec. 11, “Williams Moves to Senate Office Despite Flap Over Seat”). The Senate leaders evidently are still not satisfied.
The contention the Pennsylvania GOP is using in order to deny Lindsey Williams her democratically elected position was already decided in the courts:
In October, a Republican lawsuit on this matter was thrown out. The judge said the time for such a challenge was before the primary, not right before the election. It is even less appropriate now, after the voters have spoken.
But that is not deterring the Pennsylvania GOP:
Yet these Republican Senate leaders are now threatening to conduct a Senate hearing, with a Republican majority. Gee, I wonder how that vote would turn out?
This is just one of many recent instances that show that the Republican party is becoming increasingly opposed to the concept of democracy.
In Wisconsin, the defeated Republican Governor signed legislation to limit the powers of the victorious and incoming Democratic Governor, ignoring the will of the voters:
Scott Walker, the outgoing Republican governor of Wisconsin, on Friday signed into law measures that diminish the power of his Democratic successor and expand the authority of Republican lawmakers who teamed up with him over the last eight years to move the state firmly to the right.
Mr. Walker approved the measures over the vehement objections of the incoming governor and despite fierce protest in the State Capitol as Republican lawmakers rushed the bills through in a hastily-called session last week. Tony Evers, the Democrat who beat Mr. Walker in the November election, has suggested that he may file suit over the changes and said that Mr. Walker had chosen “to ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin.”
Mr. Walker’s move will solidify some of the policies that made him a hero to many conservatives nationally and, for a brief time, a leading presidential candidate. But participating in what many Democrats consider a legally dubious power grab also cemented another widely held view: that Mr. Walker is a bruising partisan willing to break precedent and ignore protests for political gain.
“The last eight years have been very much characterized by the view of, ‘We’ve got the power, we’re going to do what we want and anybody else, that’s too bad,’” said James E. Doyle, Mr. Walker’s Democratic predecessor as governor, who called the last-minute bills “unseemly.”
While he was at it, the defeated Republican Governor of Wisconsin signed legislation to limit the ability of people to vote:
A group run by former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says it plans legal action to block a limitation on early voting in Wisconsin signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker.
The Republican governor signed it Friday after the Legislature passed it in a lame-duck session last week.
Early voting would be limited to no more than two weeks before an election under the bill Walker signed.
Holder says in a statement that’s a “shameful attack on our democracy.”
In Michigan, Republicans are trying to use the last few weeks of Republican Rick Snyder’s term as Governor to limit an automatic voter registration referendum that was overwhelmingly approved by voters:
As the Detroit Free Press reported, GOP lawmakers are proposing over a dozen measures in the lame duck session to lock in their policy priorities and undermine provisions approved by Michigan voters just weeks ago.
A set of bills sponsored by state Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall would fundamentally alter the Promote the Vote ballot proposal allowing same-day voter registration up to and including Election Day. Instead, that deadline would be pushed back to up to 14 days before the election. A provision in that ballot measure allowing for automatic voting registration (AVR) would also be altered to allow people to opt-out.
Michigan voters passed the original Promote the Vote proposal by 67 to 33 percent.
The Michigan GOP also attempted to undo parts of a voter approved recreational marijuana referendum in order to restrict competition and allow corporations to be able to profit:
A new bill introduced by Michigan Senate Republicans on Thursday in lame duck would make it illegal to grow marijuana at home.
The move comes after voters on Nov. 6 approved a ballot initiative by a 56-44 margin to decriminalize marijuana. The new law, which goes into effect on Dec. 6, allows residents to grow in their homes up to 12 marijuana plants for personal use.
The proposed change to the new law is likely an attempted giveaway to Republicans’ corporate backers who want to make money off the sale of marijuana. It’s harder for them to do so if people are growing it at home.
And, the Michigan GOP is attempting to make sure that no ballot referendums are ever allowed to be voted on by the people of Michigan again:
Michigan Republicans are now floating a bill that would make popular citizen-led ballot initiatives nearly impossible.
HB 6595 — introduced last week by state Rep. James Lower, R-Cedar Lake — comes after the success in 2018 of five citizen-led ballot initiative ballots. That included Proposal 1, marijuana decriminalization; Proposal 2, a voting access expansion; and Proposal 3 independent redistricting commission to address gerrymandering, or rigged elections. Michigan residents also signed around 400,000 signatures each for initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour and mandate paid sick time. But Republicans were able to keep those off the Novemeber ballot by making those law, then voted to gut them in lame duck.
The new law would invalidate signatures gathered by a petition circulator who was found to “provide any fraudulent information.” However, the law isn’t specific about what that means, which could lead to false accusations by a ballot initiatives’ opponents.
The law would also mandate that no more than 10 percent of the signatures gathered could come from any of the state’s 14 congressional districts. That means those collecting signatures could collect far fewer signatures in cities. That would be especially limit petition circulators because the congressional districts are gerrymandered and far more progressive voters are packed into fewer districts.
In Florida, Republicans are trying to stop the implementation of an overwhelmingly voter approved referendum to return the right to vote to felons:
A month after Florida voters approved a measure to restore the franchise to about 1.4 million former felons—the largest expansion of voting rights in decades—a battle over implementing that change is already beginning.
The state’s Republican elections chief is resisting swift implementation of the measure, which was approved by nearly 65 percent of Florida voters on November 6 and is scheduled to take effect on January 8. He’s asking the state Legislature, dominated by Republicans, to interpret the ballot initiative. As a result, the dismantling of one of the harshest disenfranchisement schemes in the country could be subject to delays, confusion, and lawsuits.
To those who crafted Amendment 4, the ballot language was straightforward. It read, “This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation.” It stipulated an exception for people convicted of murder or a sexual offense.
This week, the first signs of obstruction arose. The secretary of state, Republican Ken Detzner, told the media on Tuesday that he believes the ballot language is unclear and, rather than give guidance to the elections supervisors, he wants the state Legislature to weigh in. “We need to get some direction from them as far as implementation and definitions—all the kind of things that the supervisors were asking,” he said. “It would be inappropriate for us to charge off without direction from them.”
The GOP seems to not just see Democratic politicians as their opponent. The GOP seems to instead see the concept of democracy itself to be their real opponent.