In 2020, voters were at their highest level in 100 years, thanks in part to enlargement Postal vote. In response, Republicans at the state level are introducing unprecedented legislation to restrict voting rights, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice.
Legislators in 28 states have submitted 106 bills restricting the right to vote So far in 2021 – and the vast majority are Republicans. Compare that to last year at this point in time: at that time, only 35 such invoices had been submitted in six states.
"We are seeing a backlash," says Eliza Sweren-Becker, the report's lead author. "Instead of going out and trying to convince voters, we see lawmakers trying to downsize the electorate to ensure job security for themselves."
Most of the proposed legislation falls into two categories: bills that either make it more difficult for Americans to vote by post or give officials more leeway to narrow the voter pool. Some are attempts to do so Withdrawal of the voting rights extensions required by the pandemic; Other are Policy overhauls that Republicans previously pushed, such as expanded voter identification laws.
Passing these laws will largely depend on whether Republicans control both the state house and governorship in the states where they were introduced – a reality in 18 of the 28 states. And while Sweren-Becker says their constitutionality depends on the way each bill is written and implemented, many of them stand a good chance of sticking with it.
The news isn't all bad: A whopping 406 bills have been introduced in 35 states that would expand access to voting, including the permanent codification of the postal voting guidelines that enabled voters in some states to cast their ballots early and remotely. Some states will consider both expansive and restrictive voting laws. Which path the state takes will likely depend on which party controls the legislature.
Tim Ryan Williams / Vox
At the national level, Democrats in Congress are pushing for a number of voting laws. Last year the House passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which provides federal oversight in states that have recently seen racial discrimination in franchise law. On Thursday, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) presented his annual Vote From Home bill with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) again, which stipulates a general postal vote – or the possibility of voting by post without an apology – for the federal government would elections and forbid states to impose "additional conditions or eligibility requirements" beyond the postmark deadline.
"Last year we saw a widespread expansion of access to voting as a safe way to participate in the COVID-19 pandemic," said Blumenauer in a press release. "We should keep making the vote easier, not harder."
At every level of government, the battle for the future of how American democracy works is in full swing – and states are moving fast.
What the Republicans are trying to do is briefly explained
State lawmakers' proposals range from seemingly sensible to downright offensives, but they are all aimed at reducing the likelihood of a vote being cast or counted.
Legislators have introduced bills in Republican-controlled countries of Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming. and divided Alaska, Kentucky, Kansas, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania according to the Brennan Center report.
They also introduced them in Democratically controlled Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington, though these bills are less likely to succeed.
Tim Ryan Williams / Vox
The bills contain a number of tactics to increase individual voting costs. In the case of postal votes, three states would increase the apology requirement – in Missouri, for example, the coronavirus would no longer be an excuse for the out-of-office voting, while in Pennsylvania a bill would eliminate the no-excuse voting after it was passed, with bipartisan support in 2019.
State lawmakers have proposed further restricting the number of voters who can cast their absentee ballots and adding cumbersome witness requirements such as: B. the obligation of witnesses to provide identification information.
In Arizona, where President Joe Biden became the first Democrat to promote the state in more than two decades, lawmakers introduced a particularly outrageous "voter-suppressing hat-trick," according to Sweren-Becker, that restricts who elects from voting Postal ballot papers can help. requires all mail-in ballots to be notarized and adds a voter ID requirement for personal ballot return.
Legislators in 10 states have introduced new voter identification laws, including the first in six states.
In one particularly absurd example, Georgia Republicans want to require absent voters to produce photocopy of their ID twice during the entire voting process.
Mississippi and New York lawmakers are attempting to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote, specifically aimed at non-citizens. To increase the challenges associated with voting, lawmakers in four states have introduced bills to cut registration on election day.
Legislators are also trying to give election officials more options to throw away ballot papers or remove voters from the list. According to the Brennan Center report, this is a common one Tactic is To make it easier for officials to remove voters from standing absentee lists and cast votes for signature mismatches – a measure introduced in Pennsylvania despite the state's Supreme Court expressly ruling that a mismatched signature was not the only one Reason for the rejection of a vote. Republican state lawmakers also want to improve election observers' access to vote counting processes, postpone the deadlines for ballot stamping or remove the secretaries of state discretion in setting these deadlines, and allow officials to be more proactive in cleaning voter rolls until permissible Practices that courts have deemed inappropriate.
It's an unprecedented flood of bills, but it's no coincidence.
The laws proposed by the GOP are directly related to Trump's election fraud lies
Many of the bills introduced this year aim to target the very practices that former President Donald Trump declared unfair while promoting various false laws Election conspiracies – but some of his preferred reforms could actually backfire.
In the dozen of lawsuits that the Trump campaign saw filed and dismissed by the courts, they falsely claimed that Biden won only because of non-citizen votes, illegally handing out postal ballot papers whose signatures could not be verified (expediently only in those of Biden won districts), and ballots were counted incorrectly because Trump-friendly election observers were not allowed to watch. All of these allegations have been proven false through recounts and in court, where no evidence of widespread electoral fraud has been found, and it has been established that election observers were actually present.
But that didn't stop discourage government GOPs from taking the opportunity to try to justify new restrictive proposals based on Trump's lies.
"We see with certainty that the state (legislature) is taking up the cloak of this electoral fraud lie and using it as a justification to restrict access to voting and essentially effect the suppression of voters," said Sweren-Becker.
Although the repression efforts will be stepped up again in 2021, the strategy is nothing new. As Emory University historian Carol Anderson, Sean Illing of Vox explained, America has a long history of "conservative whites constantly finding new ways to steal the voting rights of minorities." For the past few decades, state GOPs have tried to do this discourage traditional democratic voters – especially black voters and immigrants – from developing.
Trump's legal challenges and Twitter grumble too The goal was to cast votes in the cities of the Biden-flipped states like Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Atlanta, all of which have significant black populations.
Trump's problem with the mail-in voting was conceptual and he railed against it on Twitter and discouraged his followers from participating. By following him on his crusade, state-level Republicans could make the same mistake the former president made.
In the past, voting via email has had an impartial advantage – it has increased the turnout for both parties. Voting via email benefited Democrats more in 2020, but there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so. Last year, Trump discouraged his constituents from taking advantage of this; His misinformation made it a partisan game. And given his propensity to generate new voters and voters with little information, a difficulty in voting could mean that his base could skip future elections that require more work to get a ballot that Trump does not vote in.
Despite the numerous new restrictive proposals, there is no guarantee that these laws will work exactly as the Republican parties hope if they are passed in the first place. But Trump is giving Republicans a whole new playbook for suppressing voters – and as long as state GOPs follow his form, restrictive electoral laws are likely to play a prominent role on their agenda.
Support Vox explanatory journalism
At Vox, we want to answer your most important questions every day and provide you and our audiences around the world with information that empowers you through understanding. Vox's work reaches more people than ever before, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism is consuming resources. Your financial contribution is not a donation, but it does allow our staff to continue offering free articles, videos and podcasts to everyone who needs them. Please consider contributing to Vox today, starting at $ 3.