Juan Williams: The GOP's big lie on voting rights

Juan Williams: The GOP's big lie on voting rights

A joke?

Now she says it was just a joke.

Well then, who is going to tell Republicans?

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Last week, lawyers for Sidney Powell, a leading voice claiming November’s election was stolen from former President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE, said “reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact.”

But polls show most Republicans didn’t get the memo — they still think the election was stolen.

In an ‘Alice In Wonderland’ moment of truth falling through a rabbit hole into a twisted fantasy, Republican politicians now claim that because so many Republicans did take Powell’s joke seriously, they need to act to restore confidence in elections.

To get back to reality, there is no evidence of any election fraud.

But nonsense about restoring trust among people who fell for a joke is being cited in eight states where Republicans hold the majority in legislatures and are pushing new laws to give them control of vote counting.

In the real world, that is called a brazen, partisan power grab to give the GOP the edge in every future election.

The same inane claim to be fixing elections to reassure Republican voters is also being used in 43 states where Republican politicians are acting to cut down on absentee and early voting, and to limit hours for voting on Election Day itself, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Those efforts are based on what Powell’s lawyers now dismiss as a joke. And her joke is based on Trump continuing to spout the “Big Lie” that he didn’t lose the presidential election — it was stolen as a result of “large scale election fraud,” after he won by “historic numbers.”

The voter suppression efforts in these state legislatures is “fueled by the Big Lie of widespread voter fraud and often discriminatory in design,” according to the Brennan Center. The attempts “have the potential to dramatically reduce voting access, especially for Black and brown voters.”

In Georgia, the Republican governor signed a bill last week to allow the Republican majority in the legislature to take control of local election boards. It even makes it illegal for a stranger to hand a bottle of water to a person waiting in line to vote.

This sad joke can be heard echoing in Congress, too.

In the Senate, Republicans are fighting to stop a new bill from Democrats that would provide national protection for mail-in voting, early voting and same-day voter registration. The bill would also introduce automatic voter registration across the country.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Senate eyes plan B amid defense bill standoff MORE (R- Mo.) told the Senate Rules Committee that the proposals to protect voting rights will allow “chaos to reign in the next election and voters will have less confidence than they currently do.”

Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaIndiana governor asks state Supreme Court to review law giving legislators greater emergency powers Judge strikes down several Indiana abortion provisions Federal judge will not block Indiana University's vaccine mandate MORE, Indiana’s attorney general, who supported a request for the Supreme Court to throw out President BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE’s victory, told the Senate panel last week that Democrats want to “open our elections up to increased voter fraud” that will lead to more distrust in election results.

Sen. Jon OssoffJon OssoffTrump says matchup between Perdue and Kemp will be 'interesting,' stops short of endorsement The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer remains confident in Christmas deadline for Biden agenda Perdue announces bid for Georgia governor, setting up primary against Kemp MORE (D-Ga.) told Rokita that doubts about the election result are rooted in a “deliberate and sustained misinformation campaign led by a vain former president unwilling to accept his own defeat.”

In the aftermath of the election, Trump’s lawyers lost more than 50 court cases with their false claims of fraud. Governors, secretaries of state and election officials all confirmed that Trump lost fair and square.

An Economist/YouGov poll released last week found 58 percent of Americans recognizing that Biden was the legitimate victor in the election.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Schumer steps on the gas to move Biden agenda Hoyer says Dec. 15 is drop-dead deadline to hike debt ceiling MORE (R-Ky.) once agreed. Before the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol, he said it was clear that Biden had won a fair election.

“The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken,” McConnell said. “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”

But now McConnell is accusing Democrats of a “partisan power grab” with their efforts to preempt Republican state legislatures intent on rolling back voting rights.

He may be leaping down the rabbit hole to be with other Republicans. The Economist poll indicated that 80 percent of Republican voters do not accept that Biden won legitimately.

Again, there is no evidence of fraud.

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“This is not a usual political argument. This goes to the core of our democracy,” Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (D-N.Y.) said in dramatic testimony at a Senate hearing last week.

“Shame,” Schumer added. “I would like to ask my Republican colleagues: Why are you so afraid of democracy? Why instead of trying to win voters over that you lost in the last election, are you trying to prevent them from voting?”

Trump’s lie and Powell’s joke took a violent turn on Jan. 6. Trump fired up his supporters by telling them “we will stop the steal,” before a mob attacked the Capitol to try to stop Congress from certifying Biden as the winner. People died.

Again, Republicans argue they are taking these steps to protect the integrity of elections without mentioning that those Republicans believe a twisted, baseless message from Trump and his allies, including Powell.

Now Powell is saying in court that “reasonable people” knew it was not true.

That’s the real election fraud.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.