Republican state lawmakers participated in a nationwide effort to rewrite ballot access laws after the safest and highest-participation election in history scored its first major achievement Thursday as the Georgia governor. Brian kempBrian Kemp Democrats see Georgia as an opening salvo in the war on voting rights Tornado kills at least 1 in Newnan, Georgia Bill Clinton on Georgia’s new voting restrictions: ‘An attack on our democracy’ MORE (R) signed a radical reform package that will become law that will restrict voters’ access to absentee ballots and the ballot box.
In other states, Democrats watched with growing anxiety, knowing their legislatures are next.
“We’ve been watching Georgia very closely and we knew that our legislative Republicans would probably come up with something too,” said Michigan State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D), who represents part of Detroit and its southern suburbs.
The day before Kemp signed the Georgia legislative package, Michigan Republicans introduced 39 bills aimed at changing a voting process that resulted in President BidenJoe Biden Democrats see Georgia as an opening salvo in the war for voting rights MLB could move Georgia’s All-Star Game after controversial new voter restrictions Biden fires most advisory council members from DHS PLUS the state by 154,000 votes in 2020. Among the measures are proposals to limit the ability of elections officials to submit absentee ballot requests, require a copy of voter identification when filing an absentee ballot, and a limit on the boxes.
Those measures are in addition to more than 250 bills introduced in legislatures across the country this year that will impose new requirements or restrictions on the means of voting, according to counts by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
Conservative groups that support the reforms, such as the Heritage Foundation, which backs laws like Georgia’s reform in seven other states, say the reforms are not aimed at voters of a specific race.
“This is just an old left trope about calling things they don’t like racist. Our view is that it should be easy to vote and difficult to cheat, ”said Garrett Bess, vice president of government relations for Heritage Action. “There was a need for some standardization that was not enforced by the federal government but state by state to ensure that best practices were followed in conducting elections.”
The bills are apparently intended to address the broken faith in an electoral reform process that those appointed by the Trump administration called the safest and safest in the nation’s history.
“Republicans have essentially set fire by claiming that there is widespread voter fraud and convincing their base that this is true, and then they are acting as the firefighter who comes to extinguish the electoral fraud that does not exist by passing all these unnecessary voters suppression bills, ”said State Representative Chris Turner (D), chairman of the Democratic Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives.
In interviews, Democratic lawmakers drew a direct parallel between former President TrumpDonald Trump Democrats see Georgia as an opening salvo in the war on voting rights MLB could move Georgia’s All-Star Game after controversial new voter restrictions Biden fires most of the advisory council members of the DHS PLUSThe false claims of wrongful acts in the elections, the January 6 uprising in the United States Capitol, and the bills that advance today in Republican-controlled legislatures.
“After their failed coup attempt, Republicans across the country, especially in Georgia and Arizona, are on Plan B,” said Arizona State Representative Athena Salman, the whip of the Democratic minority. “I have not heard an argument [from Republicans] that’s not connected with the big lie. “
Amid a committee hearing this week on a proposal to require voters to submit a copy of a state-issued identification along with an absentee ballot, the Republican chairman of the House Government and Elections Committee State representatives interrupted Salman and tried to cast his vote. for her.
In states like Georgia, Arizona and Texas, where Republicans control both houses of the state legislature and the governorship, there is little that Democrats can do to delay or reject the new voting restrictions.
The minority may delay some bills: In Arizona, in February, a single Republican state senator voted with Democrats to block an attempt to eliminate a permanent vote-by-mail list. In Texas this week, a committee hearing on a key bill was delayed when a procedural problem caused a setback.
“This is a very bright line for the members of our caucus. We are united in opposition to bills that would make voting difficult. We are going to fight with everything we have, ”Turner said. Still, he admitted: “It’s uphill.”
Even in a state like Michigan, where the Democratic governor. Gretchen whitmerGretchen Whitmer Democrats see Georgia as an opening salvo in the war on voting rights Michigan Republican leader mentions ‘assassination’ in response to question about anti-Trump Republicans Michigan unlikely to tighten restrictions on as the virus increases to the MORE state They would almost certainly veto partisan ballot restriction bills, Republicans have a chance to work around the governor.
In comments to a local Republican club this week, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser said the party could use a provision in state law that allows the Republican Party to collect 340,000 signatures, about 15 percent of the total number. Michigan citizens who voted for Whitmer to submit an electoral reform package to the legislature. Whitmer could not veto that legislation.
Many of the key provisions of the new legislation would undoubtedly pose new obstacles for minorities and low-income voters, who are more likely to live in areas with fewer constituencies and longer lines. A myriad of recent election studies have shown that those who live in majority-minority precincts wait longer in line to cast their vote than those who live in majority-white precincts.
A newly passed provision of Georgia law would make it a crime to distribute bottled water to voters waiting in line.
Legislation to revise long-standing voting rules is not limited to undecided states. The Republican-controlled Montana legislature is one step away from approving the end of voter registration the same day, after an election in which the party regained the governor’s mansion and maintained control of the legislature. The Missouri State House of Representatives passed a new voter identification bill after the state Supreme Court rejected an earlier version. The West Virginia State Senate passed a measure that ended voter registration on the same day and shortened an early voting period.
Democratic-controlled lawmakers are in the midst of their own wave of electoral reforms. Many, but not all, of those measures would make permanent some of the temporary expansions of voting rights implemented amid the pandemic.
New Jersey lawmakers this week passed a bill that allows voters to cast their ballots early, a practice that has lagged behind in northeastern states. The Illinois Legislature sent Governor JB Pritzker (D) a bill to expand voting by mail and curbside voting. Washington lawmakers passed a bill to restore voting rights to criminals once they are released from prison.
The stark difference in the two approaches to voting rights illustrates the new incentive structure created for Republicans by a former president who began laying the groundwork to deflect blame for his loss even before voters began casting their votes. . Democrats used to compete by the same rules as Republicans now say they are up against an opposition who wants to change the rules, rather than play the game.
“In fact, you can spread your message to a larger constituency or you can try to change the rules. They’re going the way of the losers, ”said Michigan State Senator Jim Ananich (D), Democratic Minority Leader. “It will hurt his party in the long run. But in the short term, they will have some success in the legislatures, but we will take them to court. “