18 states have passed laws in 2021 that make it harder to vote, report finds

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GOP-controlled state legislatures have passed 30 laws so far this year that restrict access to the ballot box.

A new report released on Thursday lays out just how successful Republicans have been in their efforts to suppress the vote in the wake of Donald Trump's loss of the 2020 presidential election. It finds that since the beginning of the year, 18 states have passed 30 laws that restrict access to the ballot box — with more laws on the horizon.

The report, published by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice on its website, says, "This wave of restrictions on voting — the most aggressive we have seen in more than a decade of tracking state voting laws — is in large part motivated by false and often racist allegations about voter fraud."

The center, which has been tracking voter suppression efforts this year, categorized the restrictive voting laws according to what they do and found that most of the laws target absentee ballots.

The report says that six Republican-controlled states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Oklahoma — shortened the time voters have to request an absentee ballot.

Two GOP-run states — Arizona and Florida — passed laws that shorten the time voters can be on permanent lists that allow them to automatically receive absentee ballots for all elections.

Four Republican-controlled states — Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Indiana — limited the use of ballot drop boxes. Trump has attacked the use of ballot drop boxes, falsely claiming they are not secure and lead to fraud.

More voting bills are pending in state legislatures.

Texas Republicans are currently in the midst of a special legislative session that GOP Gov. Greg Abbott called to take up voter suppression legislation, among other bills.

Democrats in the Texas House left the state to deny the Legislature the quorum required to pass laws. They have vowed to stay out of the state until the session ends, blocking any legislation Republicans try to pass.

But Abbott said he will continue to call special sessions until the voter suppression bill Republicans want is passed.

The Texas Democrats are in Washington, D.C., and are asking Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation that would block efforts in the states to make it harder to vote.

The Brennan Center said that passing federal voting rights legislation — specifically the For the People Act, which would thwart nearly every Republican-passed voter suppression law — is imperative.

"Congress has the power to stem the tide," the center said in its report. "The For the People Act, passed by the House and now awaiting action in the Senate, would mitigate the effect of many state-level restrictions."

Democrats, however, are unlikely to be able to pass that bill due to the Senate filibuster, a procedure that makes it possible to require 60 votes to advance legislation. Given that the Senate is evenly divided and that Republicans have said they have no intention of ever passing the For the People Act, the bill is likely to die unless the filibuster is abolished.

A contingent of Democrats is urging Senate Democrats to do away with the filibuster. But a number of lawmakers — including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — say they do not want to get rid of the procedural hurdle.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.