Republican bills to make voting harder surge 43% in just one month

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A study from the Brennan Center for Justice found the onslaught of voter suppression legislation is ramping up nationwide.

The number of voter suppression bills Republican state legislators have introduced has surged by 43% in the last month, now standing at a whopping 361 pieces of legislation, according to a new study published on Thursday by the Brennan Center for Justice.

The Brennan Center for Justice, which is tracking voting legislation, called the number of voter suppression bills "startling," saying they were introduced "under the pretense of responding to baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities."

To date, Republicans in four states have passed voter suppression bills into law.

Iowa went first, passing a law that cuts back on the number of hours voters have to cast their ballots on Election Day, shortens the early voting period from 29 days to 20 days, and requires absentee ballots to be received before Election Day, rather than being postmarked by that date. The law already is facing a legal challenge.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Georgia last week passed a law that requires ID to vote by mail, limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes, and lets Republican state officials take over local election commissions — which voting rights experts fear will lead to efforts to make it harder to vote in Democratic strongholds in the state. That law is already facing multiple lawsuits.

Arkansas Republicans passed a voter ID law that won't allow those without identification to sign an affidavit affirming their identity so they can vote. It will make it harder — if not impossible — for those who do not have ID to take part in election.

And Utah Republicans passed a law that purges the voter rolls by using death records to determine if a voter has died. Voting rights experts warn that it could lead to people being wrongly purged from the rolls if they have similar or identical names to those who have died, with the Brennan Center for Justice saying that there are "error rates" in death records.

Other restrictive voting laws are also making their way through GOP-controlled legislatures.

In Texas, Republicans advanced a restrictive voting bill in the state Senate in the early hours of Thursday morning that would force disabled voters to provide written proof of their disability in order to vote by mail. The bill also shortens early voting polling hours and gives partisan poll watchers more oversight.

Congressional Democrats are trying to thwart the GOP-led effort to make it harder to vote with their own legislation. Their pro-democracy bill, H.R. 1 — which requires states to have automatic voter registration, expands access to voting by mail, and limits the use of strict voter ID requirements — passed the House in March and awaits a vote in the Senate.

A separate Brennan study found that, if signed into law, the bill would thwart virtually every single piece of legislation Republicans introduced in order to make it harder to vote.

Fearing that giving more eligible voters the right to vote would hurt Republicans in future elections, Senate Republicans have vowed to filibuster the bill.

It's why voting rights activists are now pushing for Democrats to eliminate the filibuster, an effort that is gaining steam and worrying Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell vowed to terrorize the Senate if the filibuster is repealed.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.