Self-described “fanatic about voting” Arnold Schwarzenegger moved to put his considerable money where his mouth is on Wednesday with an implied offer to fund the reopening of thousands of polling places in states that have shut them down.
The former California governor was responding to a 2019 Reuters article which noted an enormous number of polling place closures that have occurred since the 2013 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County v. Holder. In a partisan split, the court’s conservative majority eliminated a crucial portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring states with a history of racist voter suppression to prove that any changes to election laws weren’t discriminatory.
Since then, there has been a wave of so-called reforms in former Jim Crow states that critics say are deliberately intended to disenfranchise nonwhite voters, along with the closure of more than 1200 polling stations. As Reuters noted in 2019, these states deny any racist intent and instead justify the closures, which seem to hit poor and minority districts hardest, for a variety of reasons, most often budget issues.
Which brings us to Schwarzenegger, who on Wednesday tweeted: “I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’m a fanatic about voting. Most people call closing polls voter suppression. Some say it is “budgetary.” What if I made it easy & solved the budgetary issue? How much would it cost to reopen polling places?”
“This is a serious question,” he continued. “Is closing polling stations about making it harder for minorities to vote, or is it because of budgets? If you say it’s because of your budget, let’s talk.”
While it’s unclear if anyone will take him up on this offer, the ex-Governator has pretty deep pockets. His current wealth is not known, but estimates from 2011 put his personal fortune north of $400 million. We’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, see Schwarzenegger’s tweets below:
This is a serious question. Is closing polling stations about making it harder for minorities to vote, or is it because of budgets? If you say it’s because of your budget, let’s talk.
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) September 2, 2020