Push To Restrict Voting Rights Of Blacks, Minorities Continues

Republican Voter Suppression

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2021 was a bad year for voting rights. Now state legis­latures have returned for their sessions. What will 2022 bring? Early returns are not encour­aging.

Wednesday, the Bren­nan Center published our Voting Laws Roundup, which cata­logs legis­lat­ive assaults on voting rights around the coun­try.

As of Janu­ary 14, legis­lat­ors in 27 states have intro­duced, pre-filed, or carried over 250 bills with restrict­ive provi­sions, compared to 75 such bills in 24 states a year ago. That’s a trip­ling of propos­als to restrict the vote. The bills would reduce access to mail ballots, limit or elim­in­ate same-day voter regis­tra­tion, require proof of citizen­ship to vote or register, or make it harder for people with disab­il­it­ies to vote.

Equally worry­ing, lawmakers also aim to increase partisan inter­fer­ence in elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion. Legis­lat­ors in thir­teen states have pre-filed or intro­duced 41 such bills. Some would give the state legis­lature the ulti­mate power to reject elec­tion results. Others threaten elec­tion offi­cials with civil or crim­inal penal­ties or place partisan actors in charge of vote count­ing.

It can be easy to lose sight of another trend, this one posit­ive: in some states, lawmakers are seek­ing to widen access to the vote. Offi­cials in at least 32 states have intro­duced, pre-filed, or carried over 399 bills that expand voting access, compared to 286 such bills in 30 states a year ago. In some states, bad bills and good bills jostle for support.

For decades, voting rights have been a national goal, their protec­tion a national oblig­a­tion. Now the Voting Rights Act is gutted by the Supreme Court, Congress cannot pass vital legis­la­tion, and the Big Lie has taken hold.

Some states are moving back­wards, even as other states aim to build a modern and inclus­ive demo­cracy. If we do not want to find ourselves a house divided, we must renew the drive to make our demo­cracy a national mission again.

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