In 2016, Georgia and Arizona had 2 Republican senators. This year, in 2021, they both have 2 Democratic senators each. There are rumors that the GOP is trying to stop groups of people who are more supportive of Democratic candidates from voting as easily in strategic locations (ie swing states). Additionally, they also seem to want to curtail mail-in voting as it favored the Democrats recently.

Those states were the targets of what were presumably failed attempts to stop Democrats from voting. Map of proposed legislation:

Voter restrictions by state per Brennan Center, made by Wikipedia

I want to focus on Texas, Arizona, and Georgia. In Arizona, there was an audit that some view as fake. Texas has the most shown on this map by far, and Arizona and Georgia are not far behind. It is important to note such bills that are in blue states with Democratic legislatures like New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts that receive these are basically dead on arrival.

Those are 3 states that Democrats have been fighting for since 2016, when they narrowed up significantly at the presidential level while the rest of the country shifted towards the GOP. Relative to the nation, these states have shifted 10, 8, and 7 points respectively towards Democrats from 2012 president to the 2020 presidential election.

Is there objective proof that this wave of restrictions is being pushed to hurt the Democratic party, particularly in presidential and Senate elections?

Note: the first part (did they want to do so for this reason) is proving intent, and the second is statistical evidence. And Chamber of Commerce v New York says that this type of voter targeting is not legally permitted.

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    What would you accept as "objective proof"? Statistics showing that more Democratic-leaning voters than Republican-leaning voters are affected? Or perhaps verbal statements from those involved in drafting and promoting those bills? – Philipp Jun 9 at 15:09
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    "Are they intended to hurt Democrats?" and "Will they hurt Democrats?" are very different questions. The second could be answered with statistics, but I don't know how you could answer the first that way, as it's a question of motivations. – divibisan Jun 9 at 15:38
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    Is there anything to suggest that the methods are completely new, and different than other efforts in the past? Why does this need to be proven from scratch, yet again? There's ample documentation of GOP figures, on the record, stating the intent of these kinds of voter suppression efforts, and, given the fact that their claimed goal is a demonstrably fraudulent one, why would the onus of doubt be put on proving ill intent? – PoloHoleSet Jun 9 at 17:02
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    @PoloHoleSet there are two things that are new, but the idea is not new. The first is the mail in voting. Mail in voting having a large partisan bias is a new effect which took the popular vote from a statistical tie on November 4 to a victory of more than 4 points for Biden. The second is the methods are escalating. For example food and water not being allowed to be provided in Georgia, which seems to target urban voters. – Number File Jun 9 at 19:18
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    The way that you "objectively prove intent" for someone who may be deceitful about their intentions, is to show that their actions under question do NOT match their claimed goals/reasons and/or cannot reasonably accomplish the stated goals, but they do further the implicated intentions and goals, and that a reasonable person in their position should have known that. – RBarryYoung Jun 10 at 12:52

The whole foundation of the strategy that gives rise to these voter suppression laws is to avoid exactly that direct, causal link. The recent Supreme Court case Chamber of Commerce v. New York reaffirmed that it's not legitimate to simply target voters that don't agree with you. So you're essentially asking to be shown the ways in which people executing this strategy have failed to maintain the necessary cover.

This requires that we acknowledge that such a standard runs counter to the legal standard which includes, from that same case:

...we are “not required to exhibit a naiveté from which ordinary citizens are free.” United States v. Stanchich, 550 F. 2d 1294, 1300 (CA2 1977) (Friendly, J.)

For the purposes of the law, it is enough that we take their word for their own motives, most damningly from the former RNC Redistricting Chair, Thomas Hofeller - essentially one of their top strategists regarding structuring voting rules:

A switch to the use of citizen voting age population as the redistricting population base for redistricting would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.

This was also the justification for the "citizenship" question on the 2020 Census, and Hofeller's own admission in those files was key evidence for the North Carolina redistricting plan to be thrown out by courts.

The studies that inform these strategies are not published widely, and so for them to be available to you first requires a breach of GOP security (in this case, Hofeller's daughter came into possession of the data after Hofeller's death, where a more secure system would have been to destroy the data or not have it held by a human person).

Other Republican Lawmakers have slipped up, being caught complaining about how certain demographics vote, such as NH House Speaker William O'Brien, bemoaning that college students using same-day registration were:

...kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.

Which, when combined with surges in college student voting, cast Republican efforts to eliminate the ability for college students to register to vote at the campus where they live in a particular light.

Links like this are entirely circumstantial, however, as is most evidence of motive absent explicit admissions such as the Hofeller files.

Everything else that remains is merely empirical data that the fruit of these laws does directly, and disproportionately impact Democrat voters - because it directly, and disproportionately impacts non-white, hispanic, and low SES voters. Making voting require special documents means requiring that voters have the time and resources to obtain those documents. Closing polling locations in minority neighborhoods raises the average amount of time that the act of voting takes - raising the opportunity cost of voting: the wages one might have earned at work instead. The list goes on.

So to review: No, it is highly unlikely you will find data directly linking voter suppression strategies to their impacts. But there is ample data that voter ID laws, the closure of polling places, and other efforts do have these impacts, are championed chiefly by Republicans, opposed chiefly by Democrats, and that Republican strategists do this research for the purposes of informing similar efforts.

That is enough for a reasonable person to conclude that the likelihood of there being a premediated motive in play is sufficiently high.

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    Excellent answer. A point of supporting evidence not mentioned here is that the main rationale publicly offered for these laws - i.e. preventing individuals from voting more often than entitled to - is based on a problem that has not been demonstrated to exist. Invoking an obviously spurious motivation suggests that the real motivation is not a defensible one. (There are, of course, other possible non-defensible motivations, but voter suppression is the obvious one.) – Geoffrey Brent Jun 10 at 2:03
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    It might also be worth mentioning that Donald Trump, while still in office, flat out stated that "They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again" when discussing measures to make voting easier. This clearly shows that at least that Republican considered making voting more accessible bad for Republicans and good for Democrats. – terdon Jun 10 at 18:02
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    More direct evidence of Republican intent: “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country. [...] I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and 3 Democrats, [...] because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and 2 Democrats.” -David Lewis, chair of a committee drawing district maps for state elections in NC. – kaya3 Jun 12 at 10:32
  • There are some more quotes from Republicans about voter-ID laws in this 2016 Washington Post article. It's debateable whether the Republicans quoted genuinely believe there is enough voter fraud to swing an election, but either way it's clear that they expect such laws to help themselves win elections, and sometimes they admit that is the purpose of such laws. – kaya3 Jun 12 at 10:43

It is difficult (or impossible) to give objective proof of motivations, which are inherently subjective. It's additionally difficult to give proof of the motivations of entire political parties, which in a two-party system are inevitably odd coalitions of people with disparate goals. I would suggest that the most diplomatic response could be the following.

Republicans have greater electoral success when fewer people vote; Democrats have greater electoral success when more people vote (e.g., this question). I'm not aware of anyone who dissents from that as a fact about election outcomes.

Avoidance of fraud, and securing voting rights, are both valid political goals for a democracy.

Therefore it makes perfect sense that each party would emphasize the valid political goal which also happens to give it an electoral advantage. Perhaps in an ideal world both parties would pursue both goals with equal vigor, but.... this is politics.

And again, in the spirit of diplomacy, I'll point out that in order to explain the facts, it's not necessary to claim that Republicans want to disenfranchise people, or that Democrats are indifferent to voting fraud, or that either party prioritizes its electoral success over the integrity of elections.

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    As much as I appreciate the idea of having this question and its answers remain non-partisan and objective, when one group is denying the reality of the situation in such a way as to justify moves against people who would, statistically, vote against them, the "both sides" narrative becomes less objective, and favours one side unduly. – MegaCrow Jun 12 at 14:42
  • @MegaCrow I am myself inclined to believe the worst of any politician's motivations. My goal in this answer was to show that I am not forced intellectually by the data to draw particular conclusions about a particular party's hidden motivations. – adam.baker Jun 13 at 3:49

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