At a Donald Trump rally in Reno, Nevada’s top Republican complained about how easy voting is, and suggested that it should instead be harder — especially for “a certain group” of voters. Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald made the remark Saturday, and given the context in which he did, it’s blindingly obvious that the “certain group” he was talking about is Hispanics. He suggested that making the voting process easier for Hispanics restricts the freedom of ... white people, I guess? It’s not entirely clear, but what is entirely clear is that this was a stupid thing to say.
“Last night, in Clark County, they kept a poll open till 10 o’clock at night so a certain group could vote,” McDonald said. “The polls are supposed to close at 7. This was kept open till 10. Yeah, you feel free right now?”
McDonald was presumably referring to the fact that several early voting locations didn’t close until all voters who were in line by the scheduled closing time had the opportunity to vote. But let’s back up and get a bit more context here. Jon Ralston, the undisputed king of Nevada political journalism, has been reporting extensively on the state’s early voting trends this year. And based on the ballots that have already been cast, he’s essentially ruled out the possibility of Trump winning the state.
“Donald Trump may have been here this weekend, believing in the polls that show him ahead or competitive here,” Ralston writes. “But like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense (spoiler alert), he does not realize he is dead." Ralson cites several factors for Trump’s expected defeat, and a major one is the high level of Hispanic turnout in Clark County early voting.
So, to review McDonald’s argument: Some polling sites stayed open late to accommodate everyone who wanted to vote, and a lot of voters at these sites were Hispanic. Therefore, we don’t have freedom anymore. Got it.
In all seriousness, McDonald’s comments are troubling on two fronts. On the one hand, he insinuated that Hispanics should be given as little time to vote as legally possible, which is flatly racist. On top of that, he suggested that giving voters more time to vote is a threat to freedom, which is both a stupid and an undemocratic thing to suggest.
Really, what it boils down to is this: Nevada Republicans are upset that so many Hispanics are voting in this election. And if Hillary Clinton ends up winning, you can expect to hear a lot more Republicans making this terrible argument on Wednesday.