GOP state lawmakers are trying to give themselves more power over elections


Republican state lawmakers are introducing bills that would give them the power to control future elections.

A major undercurrent of the more than 300 hundred voter suppression bills Republican state lawmakers have introduced across the country is the GOP's drive to amass more power over the running of elections.

At least seven GOP-controlled state legislatures have either already passed laws stripping state and local election officials of their powers to run elections or are debating bills that would do just that. This comes after many of those election officials either refused Donald Trump's demands to make it harder to vote or did not bend to pressure from Trump and his allies to overturn his eventual loss in the 2020 presidential election.

On Thursday, the Arkansas House passed a bill that prevents county election officials from sending "unsolicited" absentee ballot applications to voters. The bill will now go to the Republican-run Senate.

Many of the power-grabbing bills center around absentee ballots, which Trump and his GOP defenders railed against in the 2020 election, repeating lies about how the use of mail-in ballots is rife with fraud and was the reason for Trump's loss.

Multiple audits and recounts of voting results in a number of states have found there was no fraud in the 2020 election, and that Trump lost fair and square.

Arkansas is not the only state in which Republican-run legislatures are taking this approach to blocking fair election.

On Wednesday, the Kansas Legislature advanced a bill "prohibiting the governor, the executive branch and the judicial branch from modifying election laws," the Kansas City Star reported.

Late in March, a law passed by the Georgia Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp stripped the secretary of state from the position of chair of the State Board of Elections and gave the legislature the power to choose a "nonpartisan" chair of the board. That move came after current Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger refused pressure from Trump during a phone call on Jan. 2 to "find" just the right number of extra votes to make him the winner of the 2020 election in the state.

Iowa banned county election officials from sending out absentee ballot applications to voters who do not specifically request them.

Kentucky stripped the governor and secretary of state of the authority to change the rules for conducting an election in an emergency after the state expanded access to mail-in ballots in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though Trump comfortably won the state by 26 points.The bill is currently being litigated in a state circuit court.

Republicans in the Texas Senate advanced a bill in the early hours of Thursday morning that bans state and local election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications, similar to those introduced by Michigan state Republicans.

And Arizona state Republicans introduced a bill in January that would quite literally allow the Legislature to ignore the will of the voters and choose their own electors. Arizona Republicans are still trying to overturn the results of the election with audits run by companies associated with pro-Trump conspiracy theorists.

The attempts to grab power from election officials are the latest example of Republicans reacting to Democratic electoral gains by curbing elected Democrats' authority .

After Democrat Roy Cooper won the North Carolina governor's race in 2016, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed rules making it harder for Cooper to pick his own Cabinet members.

Following the election of Tony Evers in 2018, the GOP-controlled Wisconsin Legislature revoked some of the new governor's powers.

The Pew Research Center reported on Jan. 22 that legislatures in half the states had challenged their governors' emergency powers this session so far.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.