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Washington Republicans Tried To Rig Alabama Election

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Washington Republicans Tried To Rig Alabama Election


Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

The strange saga of Roy Moore’s senatorial bid in Alabama has made one thing clear: Nobody should doubt that the GOP is the modern political party most eager to rig election results—even when the target is a fellow Republican.

Recent days have seen the best minds in the current generation of Republican strategists contorting election rules in every imaginable way to try to stop Moore from becoming Alabama’s junior U.S. senator next month.

Some of these exchanges have been chronicled on election law blogs, where for years, Republicans have defended their catalog of partisan voter suppression tactics (led by the big lie they were protecting the process from hordes of Democrats impersonating other voters, despite never offering serious proof). But now that an apparent sexual predator is refusing to exit the race, despite calls by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans, the party’s best and brightest have been exploring every possible angle, including canceling December’s special election.

Astoundingly, as of Thursday, the stop-Moore contingent has come up empty-handed. They have been thwarted by the calendar, Alabama’s sitting Republican governor and small details like the U.S. Constitution’s 17th Amendment (in part governing the election of senators after a vacancy). But how they tried!

Perhaps the best exchange was captured on ElectionLawBlog.org, where scholar and blog founder Rick Hasen recounted his to-and-fro tweets with conservative media personality Hugh Hewitt, who, “at first… suggested canceling the election altogether, and letting [Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, who lost a primary to Moore] just complete the term.”

That was a wonderful addition to Republican voter suppression canon: don’t hold an election at all.

“I protested that canceling an election already underway (military and other absentee voters have already voted) is profoundly undemocratic and dangerous,” he replied. “It also appears to violate the 17th Amendment, which requires that an appointment of a temporary senator be temporary, and that the state schedule a replacement vote.”

Hewitt relented, Hasen noted, but not until a better idea emerged: “Eventually Hewitt relented on this point; not because he thought it was undemocratic—indeed he seemed to believe Republicans are somehow entitled to Alabama’s two Senate seats without an election—but because he thought it would violate the 17th Amendment,” Hasen wrote. “So he hit on another idea, and according to Politico it is an idea Republican leaders nationally are now weighing: get Luther Strange, the temporary senator appointed to replace Jeff Sessions, to resign, and then with the new vacancy, declare this election void and start over.”

Here’s where the GOP got blocked by the weedy details. After Sessions resigned, the state’s previous governor appointed Strange to the Senate and set a date for a special replacement election. The big surprise, to Senate Republicans like McConnell, was that Strange lost that race’s primary to Moore.

These Washington Republicans weren’t excited about Moore before half a dozen women accused him of predatory sexual behavior. But Alabama’s Republican Party was standing by its nominee, frustrating the Senate Republicans. So then GOP leaders started looking at other scenarios, such as, could they get Sessions to resign as Attorney General to run for his old Senate seat? No. Could they get find another well-known Republican to run a write-in campaign? Not likely. Could Strange resign before December’s special election, triggering a new vacancy and possibly a new election?

“The election date is set for Dec. 12. Were he to resign I would simply appoint somebody to fill the remaining time until we have the election on Dec. 12,” Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey told AL.com on Wednesday, dashing that last theory.

That left two possibilities. Moore could lose the election to Democrat Doug Jones, narrowing the GOP’s Senate majority to one seat. Or, should Moore win, the McConnell gang could seek to expel him from the Senate, but that takes time and a two-thirds vote.

“There’s a Senate norm, apparently, of not expelling for conduct before taking office that voters knew about,” Hasen blogged, noting Senate tradition. “Do senators violate this norm? It takes two-thirds to expel. What if Democrats, either following this norm or sticking it to Republicans, don’t vote to expel? Then Moore is a constant national story, and a reminder of what the Republicans are trying to avoid… No wonder Republicans are contemplating a constitutional Hail Mary.”

Thus the GOP has once again seized the spotlight as the party most enthusiastic about rigging elections—or doing whatever it takes to get the outcome they seek.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).




  1. dbtheonly November 18, 2017

    My only surprise is that more Republicans haven’t signed on to any of these schemes to control the government.

    Who has disenfranchised voters?
    Who had enacted Voter ID laws?
    Who has gerrymandered Congressional Districts?

    The Republican lust for power is obvious.

    1. stcroixcarp November 18, 2017

      Lust is one of the big seven deadly sins.

      1. dbtheonly November 19, 2017

        As are Pride, Greed, and Sloth.

        Trump fits all seven if you look closely. Another reason to question why ostensible Christians are eager to support him.

    2. Independent1 November 18, 2017

      If the GOP decides it would be better for them to take their chances with Moore, they just may resort to rigging the vote count to ensure a Moore win; like they did to ensure a Trump win in 2016. (If CNN runs some exit polls during the Alabama election and predicts a Jones win but he ends up losing; you’ll know they rigged the count.)

  2. Richard Prescott November 18, 2017

    The Grabbing Obnoxious Pedophiles are eclipsed only by the
    Gerrymandered Oily Procrastinators when it involves others of the GOP (pick a type).
    Were any other the principles involved not GOP then they would piss themselves trying to do what is “right”.

  3. Eleanore Whitaker November 18, 2017

    Everything right now for the GOP is predicated upon keeping that majority. That IS all they care about. House and Senate votes are a joke. The good ole boys of the GOP know it’s only an exercise to show Americans they “allow” Dems to vote. In reality, even when the Dems all vote down a bill they know is detrimental to the middle class, the smug mug GOP sits there knowing no matter how many DEMS vote against, the GOP’s majority is the rulling body.

    In a way, what’s happening with the GOP has begun to show that southern and midwestern politicians cannot be trusted to use our tax dollars as intended by the US Constitution. Nor can they be trusted around little boys, teenage girls or in the case of Trump and Iskanka, their own daughters.

  4. bobnstuff November 18, 2017

    The questions the Republicans must be asking themselves right now is how much damage can Moore do if elected? Are they better off with a democrat? Can they get away with Moore dying all of a suddenly? Are the republicans looking for a hit man even as we speak?

  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth November 18, 2017


    This is one of the chains of enterprises by the GOP which has proven quite successful and lucrative. No one does rigging as well as the GOP. I was watching, by coincidence, an episode from Season 1 of the original “Mission Impossible” a few nights ago.

    The plot involved a junta in a banana republic which had a voting machine rigged in order to guarantee a victory for the ruling despots. The IM’s mission—which they always accept–was to deactivate the electro-mechanical mechanism designed to adjust the tally in favor of the despotic regime.

    I doubt though if the geek of the squad—‘Barney”—or any of the other cast of good-guys, could undo all the sophisticated cheating mechanisms, like gerrymandering, enlisting Putin’s aid via trolls and Facebook hijacking, voter suppression by threats, phony Voter ID schemes, and other underhanded tricks which the GOP employs across the country.

    1. Independent1 November 18, 2017

      Aaron, on a different topic, here’s an article from Mother Jones that’s worth pondering over a little:

      Did President Trump Approve a Deal That Allowed Hundreds of ISIS Fighters to Escape Raqqa? (And be on the loose around the world.)


      What Mother Jones is asking is: If this story is true, why isn’t anyone (Dems?) making a big issue out of it.

      1. dbtheonly November 19, 2017

        You might also compare the Republican response to the deaths of US Troops in Niger & Benghazi.

        1. Independent1 November 19, 2017

          Absolutely! And you could also compare Benghazi with 4 being killed to the 84 killed in Embassy/consulate attacks during Bush’s 8 years without one Republican – neither a legislator nor propaganda spewer (Fox News, Brietbart, etc) – raising one question about all the carnage taking place in our overseas embassies and consulates (even though there had been 2 attacks in Karachi with 16 being killed including a diplomat like Stevens.)

          Here’s the list:

          Embassy/Consulate Attacks during Bush Years –

          2001-US Embassy in Kathmandu Nepal, 1 killed
          2002-US Consulate in Calcutta India, 5 killed, 15 injured
          2002-US Consulate in Karachi Pakistan, 12 killed, 51 injured
          2002-US Embassy in Lima Peru, 9 killed, 32 injured
          2002-Diplomat office in Denpasar Indonesia, bombed no one
          2002-Us Embassy in Kathmadu Nepal, 1 killed
          2003-International Compound in Saudi Arabia, 17 killed
          including 8 Americans
          2003-US Embassy in Islamabad or Karachi Pakistan, 2 killed
          (Conflicting locations)
          2004-US Embassy bombed in Uzbekistan, 2 killed, 9 injured
          2004-US Consulate in Saudi Arabia, 8 killed, 10 injured
          2006-US Consulate in Karachi Pakistan, 4 killed including a
          U.S. Diplomat
          2006-US Embassy in Syria, 5 killed and 13 injured
          2007-Grenade launched into the US Embassy in Athens Greece, no one killed
          2008-Us Embassy in Serbia, attacked by thousands but no one killed
          2008-US Consulate in Istanbul Turkey, 3 killed
          2008-US Embassy in Sanaa Yemen. mortar attack missed but killed 2 in nearby girl’s school
          2008-US Embassy in Sanaa Yemen , 13 killed including 1
          American and 16 injured

          Totals-17 attacks with 84 killed and scores injured

          Note that the attacks started in Bush’s 1st year and only 1 year he was in office was there no attack with someone being killed (2005); and 2008 there were 4 attacks with 16 being killed; and yet not one word from any GOP lover.

  6. Eleanore Whitaker November 19, 2017

    When a person has a mind like a cement block, there isn’t much room to do more than use a sledge hammer to crack it open to let in truth and facts. This is the best analogy of the mind of Donald J. Trump.

    Mind you. Trump knows that so long as his cement block brain remains intact and the long handed Mueller sledge hammer doesn’t crack it open, he has the entire country and government in the palm of his hand.

    One problem…Can the GOP continually rig elections before the FEC decides enough is enough? Will the GOP allow the next generation of presidents to do just as Trump has done? Rule the FBI? The DOJ? The state department?

    What I find most amusing? The Republican politicians all strutting about like peacocks in heat believing what Gingrich once demanded: A permanent Republican majority.

    So…a permanent Republican Majority? You mean like a one party rule? A Dictatorship? A Republican Regime?

    I regularly watch the CSpan Congressional sessions. The idea of voting on any legislative issue with this Republican majority is a JOKE. Why? Because even when every Dem votes down a piece of Republican legislation, their votes don’t matter. The Republican Majority overrides ALL DEM votes. Why bother to even call for a vote then?

    Or is this just another of the hick Republican idea of the South Shall Rise Again method of taking over the country and using our tax dollars ONLY for their GOP states?


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