I want to know about whether or not many high profile Republicans want fewer eligible Americans to vote because they believe it could help them win more elections. An example that makes me suggest this was the voter ID laws which impact certain types of people disproportionately.

It is also commonly believed that higher turnout helps Democrats. Though this is not always the case, the general trend has been backed up by evidence in some studies and by correlations such as the 2014 and 2018 midterms.

This is an objective question. I am asking if there are any high ranking officials in government and/or official GOP ranks who have indicated that they would prefer if fewer eligible voters voted, under the assumption that a disproportionate number of lower propensity voters would vote Democrat.

  • 6
    Comments deleted. Please don't use comments to answer the question. If you would like to answer, post a real answer. Also, this is not a place to debate how the current President of the United States should be addressed.
    – Philipp
    Oct 6, 2020 at 16:32
  • @AzorAhai's edit changed the question quite significantly in the body, so it doesn't align with the answers very well anymore. Also it didn't change the title, and there's a mismatch between them now.
    – sgf
    Oct 8, 2020 at 20:45
  • @sgf Not really, the intent of the question was quite clear. Still fits the answers, I feel, except perhaps the last, to which I say the section about non-citizens voting is intentionally misreading the post (my earlier comments to this point have been removed.) I didn't change the title because the point is obvious, and I just clarified in the body so everyone could stop arguing about it in the comments. You are fee to edit, of course. Oct 8, 2020 at 20:53
  • It is worth understanding the backdrop of differing philosophies between Republicanism and Democracy: In a pure Democracy, everybody shows up for a big bang popular vote on every issue and race they are eligible to vote in. The "most popular" candidate or proposal wins. In a Republic, all eligible voters vote, but not all at once in the same race: They elect representatives or delegates, who then vote on behalf of their constituents (though they are not bound to mirror a popular vote). The Constitution structures presidential elections this way.
    – pygosceles
    May 27, 2023 at 3:38

5 Answers 5


"They had things—levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

Donald Trump on Fox and Friends

“Just what America needs, another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work ... [on Democratic] campaigns,” he snarked on the Senate floor. “This is the Democrat plan to restore democracy? ... A power grab.”

Mitch Mconnell Video here

  • 29
    I just realized that the US election day is a working day for most people. Why not vote on a sunday? Oct 6, 2020 at 2:11
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    @EricDuminil Because when the country was younger people had to take longer to travel to vote and a Saturday/Sunday would interfere with church so they chose a day of the week that people would be more able to get to. The work week wasn't setup like it is now.
    – Joe W
    Oct 6, 2020 at 2:39
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    @EricDuminil: You are not the first person to ask that. Not only are there questions about that very thing on this site, but one of the most well-known advocacy groups for changing the US voting system is literally called Why Tuesday?. Oct 6, 2020 at 7:13
  • 18
    @EricDuminil Many aspects of US democracy have been designed to be very hard to change. That means it can only change with prolonged bipartisan cooperation, which doesn't happen in the current political climate.
    – gerrit
    Oct 6, 2020 at 8:02
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    The Mitch McConnell quote shows that he disapproves of something which might increase voter turnout, but it doesn't show that he disapproves of it because it will increase voter turnout. In fact, he gives reasons that has nothing to do with voter turnout (even if those might not be his actual reasons). Compare it to a more blatant example: "I don't think people should be killed if they don't go and vote". Yes, doing so would probably increase voter turnout, but the objection probably has more to do with the whole murder thing.
    – NotThatGuy
    Oct 6, 2020 at 8:51

While this is older and from 1980 here is Paul Weyrich coming out and saying more people voting is bad:

Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.

More on Trump


On "Fox & Friends," Trump went several steps further by directly suggesting that Republicans shot down those measures specifically because they would increase voter turnout and make it harder for the GOP to win elections.




On Wednesday, Mitch McConnell once again articulated his commitment to limiting voter turnout, but this time he didn't try to hide behind "security concerns." He took to the Senate floor to voice his opposition to a proposal that Election Day be made a federal holiday. It's a move that would go a long way to improving voter turnout and drastically cutting down wait times. Or, as McConnell sees it, it's a "power grab" by Democrats.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation about whether or not the use of "power grab" in the quote is appropriate has been moved to chat.
    – Philipp
    Oct 6, 2020 at 16:29

In the 2012 Obama vs Romney presidential election, Pennsylvania state House Republican leader Mike Turzai admitted openly that the whole purpose of a voter ID-law was to suppress Democratic votes and win the state for Mitt Romney.

In listing the accomplishments of the state House and Senate GOP for the partisan crowd, Mr. Turzai pointed to the new requirement for all voters to show a photo ID card as one example.

"Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it's done," Mr. Turzai told the gathering of party activists. "First pro-life legislation -- abortion facility regulations -- in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."

Turzai's voter ID remark draws criticism – Pittsburg Post-Gazette

Some other sources for the same statement:

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    That's your interpretation, it's not what the quote actually says. Another interpretation would be that without voter id laws, enough fraudulent ballots would be cast to change the results of the election.
    – horns
    Oct 7, 2020 at 12:22
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    @horns That is indeed the reason that Turzai's spokesperson gave in the link in the answer, so I have to agree with this comment. It's possibly suspicious, but not an admission of voter supression.
    – Mark
    Oct 7, 2020 at 15:46
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    @horns, Re "Another interpretation...": the existential difference being that only one interpretation voter suppression has both ample present day and historical evidence going for it, whereas the other interpretation massive voter ID fraud offers scant evidence, (peppered by partisan anecdotes and paranoid speculation).
    – agc
    Oct 20, 2020 at 15:22
  • The voter ID laws particularly targeted groups that were likely to vote demecratic, such as immegrants (legal and illegal). They tailored the law carefully to not exclude as many republicans, for instance I believe the law allowed the use of NRA id, something far more likely to be possessed by republicans then democrats, as a valid form of ID. All this really proves is that Romney believed he could craft the law in a way that drove away more democrats then republicans, not necessarily that he believes fewer voters in general favor republicans.
    – dsollen
    Oct 21, 2020 at 18:40

Yes, lots of it. For example, Republicans are generally opposed to felon voting. Felons are obviously people. They do this entirely in the open, and there is no secret about it.

The Atlantic
National Review

Here is another category of examples. Republicans are generally opposed to non-US-citizens voting. Non-US-citizens are obviously people. Again, it's entirely in the open, and you don't have to look for anything secretive to see it.

NBC News
Fox News


The Trump campaign in 2016 used voter information from Cambridge Analytica to target a group of voters they labelled 'Deterrence'. That is, the were deemed susceptible to being deterred from casting a vote. The campaign could then, for example, use online advertising targeting that group to achieve this.

To me, this tactic seems like a perfectly valid example of 'wanting fewer people to vote'. After all, if you can convince someone to lose faith in their preferred candidate so that they will not vote for them, you (as an opposing candidate) have completed the first step towards winning their vote.


  • 1
    how is "wanting fewer people to vote" a loaded term?
    – yeah22
    Oct 8, 2020 at 22:58
  • 1
    Because it encompasses rather mundane meanings like in the example I gave, but also those more morally dubious like closing polling places @yeah22 Oct 9, 2020 at 1:04
  • not really, it just encompasses... wanting fewer people to vote. neither for yourself, nor the other candidate.
    – yeah22
    Oct 9, 2020 at 1:35
  • If you don't consider the variety of ways this would be achieved, I suppose you're right. I'll remove that part. Oct 9, 2020 at 1:45
  • 1
    @yeah22, Re "Not really": That's hard to believe. Please name a serious candidate or party that has ever wished for fewer votes.
    – agc
    Oct 20, 2020 at 15:35

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