Census shows voting by mail soared in 2020 — and the GOP is trying to get rid of it

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Nearly 70% of voters cast ballots either early or by mail in the last election cycle.

The number of Americans who voted either early or by mail skyrocketed in the 2020 election, with 69% using those "nontraditional" methods to cast ballots, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

The census data shows a 29% increase from 2016 of people who voted either absentee or early in-person.

Hundreds of Republican-introduced bills in state legislatures across the country since the 2020 election are now aiming to make those two methods of voting more difficult.

On Thursday, Republicans in the Florida Legislature became the latest to pass a voter suppression bill, which GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he supports.

The legislation would limit the use of ballot drop boxes, requiring them to be manned at all times, and imposing a $25,000 fine on election supervisors for any violations.

It would also force voters to submit requests for absentee ballots more often and require them to submit ID when requesting one.

Other states that have made it harder to vote early or by mail include Iowa, which cut back on the number of early in-person voting days and the number of hours voters have on Election Day itself to cast ballots; and Georgia, which limited the use of ballot drop boxes and required ID to vote by mail.

Meanwhile, voter suppression legislation is also moving through the Texas Legislature, where Republicans are looking to force those with disabilities to provide proof of them in order to vote by mail and cuts the number of early in-person voting hours.

Republicans are looking to make it harder to vote even in states where Donald Trump and the GOP did well in the 2020 election.

The effort to make it harder to vote comes after Trump lied about voter fraud in the 2020 election, claiming in part that a surge in absentee ballots contributed to his loss. It's not true.

Relying on those lies, which polls show Republican voters now overwhelmingly believe, Republicans across the country have introduced hundreds of voter suppression bills targeting the methods of voting Trump has condemned.

Democrats and voting rights activists have cried foul, saying the effort targets minority and young voters who traditionally support Democrats in higher numbers. They are pushing for the passage of H.R. 1, the For the People Act, a sweeping bill that would expand voting access.

If it became law, H.R. 1 would require states to create an early in-person voting period for federal elections if they do not currently have one. It would also allow every voter who wants to vote absentee in federal elections to do so. And it would prohibit certain restrictive voter ID requirements.

The For the People Act passed the House in March, but it has yet to receive a vote in the Senate, where Republicans have vowed to block it, fearing it would hamper GOP chances in future elections.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.