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US Republicans putting 'our entire democracy' at risk: Over 100 scholars warn

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Demonstrators in the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta protested restrictive voting measures under consideration in March. (Getty Images)

Attempts by Republicans to impose voting restrictions across the United States pose an existential threat to democracy in the country, scholars of democracy have warned.

In a new statement released by the New America think tank on Tuesday, more than 100 scholars of democracy said what Republicans are trying to do amounts to “radical changes to core electoral procedures” in response to former president Donald Trump’s persistent and baseless claims that the November presidential election was stolen and that Joe Biden won the election illegitimately.

"We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of US elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm," said the statement signed by the professors, deans, and other scholars who come from a range of universities and institutions across the US, including Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Duke, and Stanford.

They noted, "Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election."

This comes after on Saturday a committee of representatives and senators in Texas finished drafting a bill that limits early hours to cast ballots, bans drive-through polling sites and places new requirements on voters among other things.

Since that election last year, many Republican-led states have taken up bills that make voting more difficult. At least 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote between January 1 and mid-May, according to a tracker from Brennan Center for Justice.

The GOP-led initiatives, the scholars said, "are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections."

"Our entire democracy is now at risk," the scholars said. "History will judge what we do at this moment."

Over the past few years, and particularly since the US Capitol riot in January, top scholars have repeatedly warned that the GOP has become a fundamentally antidemocratic party determined to win elections by any means.

The party’s efforts to whitewash the events of January 6 and shield Trump from blame for the riot have increased alarm in this regard.

On that day, Trump supporters launched a deadly assault on the US Capitol, disrupting briefly the certification of the November election results. Five people were killed in the siege.

Trump was impeached under the charge of incitement of an insurrection, but Republican leaders have continued to kowtow to the former president.

"Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his 'Stop the Steal' crusade, which led to the violent attack on the US Capitol," said the scholars. "Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread."

Although there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, top Republicans across the US have refused to accept its results.

In their statement, the scholars criticized Republicans for continuing to push for antidemocratic laws.

"These actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy," they said, referring to GOP's recent efforts as "a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage."

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