GOP lawmakers nationwide gear up to suppress more votes for the next election


GOP-controlled legislatures in several states introduced legislation this week to make voting harder.

The efforts to make it harder to vote have begun in earnest as GOP-controlled state legislatures convene across the country and introduce legislation to make voter registration and voting by mail more difficult.

Republicans began calling for such measures to be implemented in the immediate aftermath of Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, making baseless claims of voter fraud to explain away Trump's defeat and saying that tackling all that fraud required new voter restrictions.

But now that newly elected state lawmakers have been sworn in and legislative sessions have begun, Republicans are introducing and debating concrete legislation that would make it harder to vote.

Republicans in Georgia began proposing steps to make it harder to vote by mail and easier to throw out legally cast ballots after Biden beat Trump there by nearly 12,000 votes.

In Montana, the GOP-controlled state House began hearings on a bill on Thursday to eliminate same-day voter registration in the state. It's what Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen calls an "election integrity" measure, with Republicans claiming that same-day registration puts an unfair burden on local election officials.

KTVH TV in Helena noted that repealing same-day voter registration would impact the large Native American population in the state as well as college students. Both demographic groups vote for Democrats by wide margins.

On Friday, New Hampshire's Republican-controlled state House also began hearings on a bill that would repeal same-day voter registration in the state.

The bill also would make college students in the state jump through an additional hoop of proving to election officials that they qualify for in-state tuition in order to be able to register to vote.

Republicans in the state passed a similar law ahead of the 2020 election, requiring students to become permanent residents in order to vote. The law was struck down by a judge who ruled that it placed a "discriminatory burden on the rights of voters in New Hampshire."

"Session after session Republicans and @GovChrisSununu, fueled by #StopTheSteal lies, go out of their way to target student voters with bills to disenfranchise them," New Hampshire Young Democrats tweeted on Friday. "We will never stop fighting these bills."

In Arizona, the GOP-run legislature is weighing whether to get rid of the state's Permanent Early Vote List, which allows residents to register to receive mail-in ballots automatically for each election they are eligible to vote in. It is also working to impose restrictions on recounts and add other burdens to the ability to vote.

Biden was the first Democrat to win a presidential election in Arizona since 1996; Democrats also now hold both of the state's U.S. Senate seats.

"To see Republicans do this power grab after the highest voter turnout elections in our state's history, in the shadows of an attempt to overthrow the election results in Arizona, there’s no other way to describe this than as a flat-out power grab, and that's what this is," Democratic state Rep. Athena Salman told a Phoenix television station in response to the moves by state Republican lawmakers.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican state senator introduced a bill on Thursday that would eliminate no-excuse absentee voting, which would significantly cut the number of Pennsylvanians who could vote by mail.

And a bill proposed by a Republican state senator would block Mississippi from releasing vote totals in its presidential elections until after all states had cast their votes in the Electoral College. The bill would allow the state to report the percentages of the vote the candidates received, but not the number of ballots.

Voting rights advocates called on Democrats to stop Republicans' moves to suppress participation in elections.

"Just today I've seen news of Republicans in Montana & New Hampshire trying to repeal same-day voter registration, & Arizona GOP trying to purge countless voters from their 'permanent' mail voting list," tweeted Daily Kos elections analyst Stephen Wolf. "Dems in Congress must pass laws to stop voter suppression or this will spread."

Democrats in Congress are taking up legislation to protect and expand voting rights.

In the House, Democrats are working to pass H.R.1, the For the People Act of 2021, which would require states to implement automatic voter registration and limit their ability to purge voters from the rolls.

An identical bill passed in the House in 2019, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked it from getting a vote in the Senate.

Now that McConnell is minority leader and no longer controls which bills make it to the floor, it will likely come up for a vote.

But with the filibuster in place in the Senate, and McConnell holding up the transfer of power to a Democratic majority over a demand that it not be repealed, Republicans as of now can still block it from passing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.