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Voters wait to cast their ballots in Phoenix

Voters wait to cast their ballots at the Biltmore Fashion Park on November 8, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Progressives Say Massive Voter Turnout Is the Best Counter to the 'Big Lie'

"If young people and working people come out to vote in strong numbers today, we can win this election," said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Jake Johnson

With Republicans doing all they can to suppress the vote and sow doubt about the election process with brazen lies, progressive campaigners, lawmakers, and watchdogs said Tuesday that the most effective counter to the GOP and its corporate backers is large-scale turnout, particularly among young and working-class voters.

"Record-breaking youth voter turnout gets you historic gun safety legislation, it gets you student debt cancellation, it gets you the largest investment by any country on the planet to tackle the climate crisis, and it's getting us long-overdue marijuana reform," Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, the president of NextGen America, said in an MSNBC appearance Tuesday morning, pointing to recent policy moves spurred by the 2020 youth turnout surge, which helped deny former President Donald Trump a second term and gave Democrats narrow control of Congress.

"Young people have a lot more they want to achieve," Ramirez added. "We have to make sure we all come out and vote this election."

Despite right-wing voter intimidation efforts at ballot drop boxes in several states ahead of Election Day and Republican efforts to delegitimize mail-in voting, around 40 million Americans cast their ballots early, surpassing early turnout in the 2018 midterms.

"Overwhelmingly, they have done so without incident," Michael Waldman, president and CEO of the Brennan Center for Justice, wrote in a blog post Tuesday morning, arguing that "voting is the best answer to voter intimidation, election disruption, and sabotage."

"It has been calm and safe, just like any other year," Waldman continued. "There are a handful of exceptions—the armed men stalking some drop boxes in Arizona, blocked by a federal court, was the most visible example. But as that ruling reinforced, it is illegal to harass voters or election workers. Law enforcement this year has finally begun to step up to ensure safety."

"And while the voting process so far has been secure, we know that after the voting is over, the process of counting and certifying results may be the subject of conspiracy theories, violent threats, and fake news, as it was in 2020," he added. "If these election deniers lose fair and square, will they ever accept the results? That would itself be a challenge to the norms of our democracy."

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday, progressive lawmakers and movement leaders have worked to spotlight the enormous stakes of the midterms, which will determine control of Congress for the next two years and potentially have major implications for climate action, key social programs, and democracy itself.

According to one analysis, a majority of Republicans on the ballot for state and federal elections this cycle have questioned or outright denied the outcome of the 2020 presidential contest—and some of those candidates are vying for top state-level election posts.

"Today, on Election Day, we choose to vote fearlessly," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of the Poor People's Campaign, which undertook a multi-state effort to drive up turnout among low-income people who played a crucial role in defeating Trump two years ago.

"Join us and millions of voters, including poor and low-wealth voters who have often gone unseen, as we make our voices heard at the polls," Barber added.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who on Sunday wrapped up a five-state voter mobilization tour in the critical battleground of Pennsylvania—the site of an intensifying vote-counting fight that could swing the election—echoed Barber's Election Day rallying call.

"If young people and working people come out to vote in strong numbers today, we can win this election," Sanders wrote on Twitter. "Let's get this done. No matter where you live, make sure you vote. And while you're at it, bring two or three of your friends or family members to the polls as well."


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