The party of dumb people is having difficulty finding people smart enough to serve effectively on public boards and commissions. This week, two Republican members of the State Board of Elections, David Black and Ken Raymond, resigned their posts to protest their own votes. They agreed with a settlement that they later learned they were supposed to oppose. Their handlers clearly failed in their jobs, but the board members are taking the fall.

A group of retirees sued the State Board of Elections over mail-in ballot rules that could leave some people disenfranchised. A federal judge, who was appointed by Republican President George Bush, agreed with the retirees and told the board to find a remedy that would make sure voters are not denied their vote because of minor technical errors related to mail-in voting. The board and its lawyers worked out a way to satisfy the judge’s order. At a meeting, board members were briefed on the matter and the resolution was explained in detail. A week later, the State Board of Elections unanimously voted to support the resolution.

That’s when all hell broke loose. GOP legislative leaders who have long sought to make voting more difficult for people who might vote for Democrats blasted the agreement. North Carolina Republican Party Chairman told the News & Observer that the two board members didn’t consult him. In other words, they just went off and voted on their own.

Fortunately, the GOP can nominate two more people to replace Black and Raymond. Maybe those members will have enough sense to check in with their betters before they make any decisions for themselves. I doubt Republicans will make the same mistake and they will keep the new board members on a much tighter leash.

Really, though, the whole episode seems to be part of a much more nefarious attempt to discredit the election results or cast doubt on the process. It’s the same rationale they’ve used to push through voter suppression bills across the country. Trump has been charging that mail-in ballots are fraudulent even though GOP groups have been sending out ballot request forms. When the two resigned, Thom Tillis said that  he had “grave concerns” about the mail-in process, just days after he said he had total confidence in it. Tillis changing his story is certainly nothing new, but the GOP is instilling disinformation message discipline.

The GOP has become a party of bad actors and dupes. They’ve given in to the cult of personality surrounding Trump. Republican leaders, including elected officials, spread the president’s disinformation while working to destroy the credibility of institutions and organizations that expose the falsehoods they’re promoting. Their uneducated base only believes Trump or organizations shilling for him. Those dupes are susceptible to conspiracy theories, disinformation campaigns, and Trump’s blatant lies. Republicans and their allies are using the tools of authoritarians and, as we’ve seen with the resignations at the State Board of Elections, they don’t tolerate dissent.

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