Republicans want to make voting harder even in states they won in 2020

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Lawmakers have used the repeated lie that the 2020 election was rife with fraud as justification for their voter suppression bills.

Since Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election, Republican state lawmakers across the country have introduced legislation aimed at making it harder to vote.

Much of the legislation has been introduced in states President Joe Biden flipped from Republican to Democratic, such as Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan.

But it's not just states that flipped blue that are seeing an influx of Republican-introduced voter suppression legislation.

A review by the American Independent Foundation found that Republicans have introduced and in some cases passed legislation to make it more difficult to vote in seven states Trump won in 2020. In some of the states, Trump's margins of victory were greater than they were in 2016.

Lawmakers have used the repeated lie that the 2020 election was rife with fraud, which GOP voters now overwhelmingly believe, as justification for their voter suppression bills.

The bills' provisions include cutting back on early voting days, requiring ID to vote by mail, and making it harder to use ballot drop boxes for absentee ballots, which voting rights experts say will have a disproportionately negative impact on Black voters.

Some go even further by making it harder to register to vote or cutting some of the different types of identification that can be used to meet voter ID requirements.

In all, voting rights activists say the nationwide effort is the biggest assault on voting rights in years, comparing the new bills to Jim Crow-era racist voter suppression efforts.

Republicans are trying to make it harder to vote in these states that Trump won in 2020.

Ohio

Even though Trump expanded his margin of victory in Ohio, winning by 8 points in 2020 versus 7.5 points in 2016, Republican state Rep. Bill Seitz is planning to introduce legislation that, if signed into law, would severely restrict the use of ballot drop boxes, make voter ID requirements more stringent, and eliminate early in-person voting on the Monday before Election Day.

The bill would allow ballot drop boxes only outside county board of election offices.

Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters said in a statement, "In a state that has set the bar for extreme anti-voter laws, this proposal actively takes steps to put Ohio further back in the fight for access to the voting booth. By limiting Ohioans' ability to vote and by sowing confusion, statehouse Republicans are once again attacking the fundamental right to vote in this state."

Iowa

Iowa was one of the first states to enact new laws making it harder to vote, with the state's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signing a voter suppression bill on March 8.

It did so even though Trump won Iowa by 8.2 points in 2020, down only slightly from 9.4 points in 2016.

The law cuts the number of early voting days, slashes the actual time voters have to cast ballots on Election Day, and reduces the amount of time voters have to return absentee ballots.

A civil rights group filed a lawsuit against the law the day after it was enacted, saying that it "will impose undue and unjustified burdens on a wide range of lawful voters, including some of the state's most vulnerable and underrepresented citizens: minority voters, elderly voters, disabled voters, voters with chronic health conditions, voters who work multiple jobs and voters who lack access to reliable transportation or consistent mail service."

Arkansas

Trump expanded his victory margin in Arkansas in 2020, winning by 27.6 points in 2020 versus 26.9 points in 2016.

Bills passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature make it a crime to hand out food and drink to people waiting in line to vote; deny an absentee ballot to a voter if their signature on the application doesn't match their signature on file for their voter registration; and ban election officials from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson was reported last week to be reviewing the bills.

Montana

On April 19, Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed legislation into law that will eliminate same-day voter registration and bar student IDs as an accepted form of voter identification.

Trump won the state by 16.4 points, while Republicans won the governorship for the first time since 2005 and expanded their majorities in both the House and the Senate.

The Montana Democratic Party immediately sued the state, saying in the lawsuit, "While these new laws will burden all Montana voters, they specifically target the youngest members of the electorate just months after they turned out to vote at record rates. There is no legitimate justification for these restrictions, much less any sufficiently weighty state interest to justify their burdens on the fundamental right to vote."

Texas

Texas already has some of the strictest voting laws in the country. But after Trump's victory margin in the state shrank from 9 points in 2016 to 5.6 points in 2020, Republicans in the state are seeking to make it even harder to vote.

A bill moving through the Republican-controlled state Legislature would make it ever harder to vote absentee.

While the state already allows only those with an excuse to vote by mail, Republicans want to force the disabled to submit proof of their disability in order to obtain an absentee ballot, forcing them to get a note from a doctor or the Social Security Administration.

The legislation would also cut early voting hours; eliminate drive-through voting, which more than 100,000 Texans used in the 2020 election; and ban officials from automatically sending out absentee ballot applications.

Florida

Trump expanded his victory margin in Florida, carrying the state by 3.3 points in 2020, up from 1.2 points in 2016.

But Republicans in Florida are trying to make it harder to vote by forcing voters to show ID when they put their ballots in drop boxes and to reapply to receive absentee ballots more frequently.

One bills introduced in the Florida state House targeted the distribution of food and drinks to voters waiting in line, but the provision was removed after the backlash to a Georgia law that criminalizes such activities.

Utah

In February, Utah — where Trump expanded his margin of victory from 17.9 points in 2016 to 20.5 points in 2020 — passed a law that would allow the state to purge its voter rolls of people the government believes are dead.

The bill's sponsor, state Rep. Mike Winder, told the Deseret News in January that he had "heard of several cases where it has happened." But observers warn that the Utah law makes incorrect removal of voters more likely, with the Brennan Center for Justice noting, "Because the law does not require any notice to the voters being removed, does not require auditing of the source data, and does not specify how many data points must be matched, it creates a risk that county clerks will remove the wrong names from their voter registration rolls."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.