In all, 28 states have introduced, pre-filed or are advancing 106 restrictive bills for the 2021 legislative session, a significant spike from just 35 bills in 15 states in 2020, according to the Brennan Center analysis. The majority of bills look to restrict or put limitations on how and who can vote by mail, while others look to impose photo ID laws and take a more aggressive voter purge policy, according to the report.
Mail-in voting was dramatically expanded in 2020 because of the pandemic as election officials and lawmakers looked to balance public health precautions with the right to vote — and led to a dramatic shift in voter turnout, with Democrats disproportionately favoring mail-in or early voting options.
Though there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Republicans nationally have made election law changes a priority this year.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel has said the party will be taking a “heavy role” in pushing for the election changes.
“It’s going to be done at the state level. I think a lot of these states are already looking at their state laws,” McDaniel said in an interview with Fox News on Monday.
Opponents of the measures say that they make the voting process less secure while also limiting voter participation.
“There are some politicians that are very concerned about the historic turnout that we saw in the 2020 election and are determined to put barriers in front of the ballot box to try and give themselves a job security play,” Myrna Pérez, director of voting rights and elections at Brennan, said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
“There are some politicians who are trying to manipulate the rules of the game so some people can participate and some people can’t,” Pérez added.
Rolling back ‘no excuse voting’
“The confusion that took place afterwards, and just the lack of faith in how things were run, is really affecting people’s belief and desire to want to vote again. That is especially true in my district,” he said.
Clamping down on applications and third-party involvement
Other states like New Jersey, Texas and Washington are considering bills that would limit who can send absentee ballot applications, or how widely they can go out.
A slew of other bills being considered include measures that would restrict assistance to voters, would enhance witness requirements and would limit the options a voter has for returning their absentee ballot.
Requiring photo ID
Legislators in nearly a dozen states have introduced bills that would impose a photo ID requirement either for early in-person voting or voting by mail.
The Granite State is also considering a bill that would prevent the use of student IDs as identification for voting. Mississippi is weighing legislation that would prohibit the use of out of state drivers’ licenses.
GOP lawmakers are also focusing on voter roll maintenance, specifically looking to remove voters from rolls for inactivity.
An Arizona Republican legislator has introduced a bill that would remove voters who fail to vote in a four-year election cycle and fail to respond to a notice. Mississippi is considering a similar measure.
CNN’s Dianne Gallagher contributed to this report.
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