Photo: ACLU Texas
Across the country, the effort to restrict the vote continues, with a wave of bills moving through state legislatures and becoming law. Between January 1 and May 14, 2021, at least 14 states enacted 22 new laws that restrict access to the vote.
The United States is on track to far exceed its most recent period of significant voter suppression — 2011. By October of that year, 19 restrictive laws were enacted in 14 states. This year, the country has already reached that level, and it’s only May.
More restrictions on the vote are likely to become law, as roughly one-third of legislatures are still in session. Indeed, at least 61 bills with restrictive provisions are moving through 18 state legislatures. More specifically, 31 have passed at least one chamber, while another 30 have had some sort of committee action (e.g., a hearing, an amendment, or a committee vote). Overall, lawmakers have introduced at least 389 restrictive bills in 48 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.
The restrictive laws from 2011 were enacted after the 2010 elections brought a significant shift in political control over statehouses — and as the country confronted backlash to the election of its first Black president. Today’s attacks on the vote come from similar sources: the racist voter fraud allegations behind the Big Lie and a desire to prevent future elections from achieving the historic turnout seen in 2020.
Americans’ access to the vote is in unprecedented peril. But Congress can protect it.
The For the People Act, passed by the House and now awaiting action in the Senate, would block many of the state-level restrictions that have been or may soon be enacted into law.
At the same time, at least 880 bills with expansive provisions have been introduced in 49 states. Of these, at least 28 bills with expansive provisions have been signed into law in 14 states. At least 115 bills with expansive provisions are moving in 25 states: 45 have passed at least one chamber, and 70 have had some sort of committee action.
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