What would happen if political operatives tried to subvert the sacred American principle of “one person, one vote?” What if they hatched and pursued that plan for years before anyone noticed what they were doing? That is the frightening tale told in a new feature documentary, Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook. Narrated by Jeffrey Wright, and shot during the chaotic 2016 election, the film identifies and unpacks a shrewd ten-part strategy developed by Republicans to suppress votes that would be cast against them.
Why did they do it?
Obama’s 2008 victory revealed a rising demographic tide of non-white and younger voters that threatened GOP success into the future. Mark McKinnon, a former Republican strategist, notes in the film that Republicans could have moved toward the center and appealed to the rising minority majority, but instead the GOP “figure[d] out how you turn out more of your people and less of the other guys.” In short, suppress the vote.
How did they do it?
Rigged shows viewers just what they did – and continue to do – from creating new barriers to voter registration, to purging American citizens from the voting rolls without notice, to new and deliberate impediments to casting a vote. In addition, the film shows how GOP activists developed an elaborate but false narrative of widespread voter fraud in order to justify the necessity for new and draconian voting restrictions.
The message of Rigged?
In the wake of the 2018 elections, our democracy is still in peril. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) states in the film, “I fear for our younger people. I fear they will not have the kind of democracy I experienced . . . somebody’s got to say, ‘This is not right.” Somebody’s got to say, ‘We can do better.’”