It took several months, but the Texas Republicans have finally passed their much-debated bill resetting electoral access in the Lone Star State.
Back in spring Disagreements between the Senate and House Republicans delayed the final vote on the proposal until the last day of the Texas regular legislature, making it easy for the Democrats to crush this bill leave the capital early that dayas the Texas legislature requires a two-thirds quorum to hold a vote. Texas Governor Greg Abbott at that time referred to as a special session for July, in part specifically to pass the voting restrictions, but US House Democrats crippled it by fling the state to prevent the law from being passed. But Abbott just convene another special meeting to begin immediately after the end of the first, and after almost six weeks enough Democrats returned to the state to enable the legislative activity to continue. The controversial electoral law finally passed the legislature at the end of last month – but not before a 15-hour filibuster in the Senate and a passionate 12-hour debate in the House of Representatives – and Abbott signed in law on Tuesday.
Texas law is likely the culmination of large-scale Republican push to restrict electoral access this spring and summer – the political by-product of former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 elections were fraudulent. At this point in the year, most of the state legislatures are now outside of the session, so we are close to finalizing the book on our pursuit of these restrictions for 2021. Based on data from Brennan Center for Justice and the Voting rights laboratory In addition to our own research, we now count 52 new voting restrictions that were enacted in 21 different states this year. And 41 of the 52 were sponsored primarily or entirely by Republicans.
In total, state lawmakers proposed a whopping 581 bills to restrict voting this year – 89 percent of which were Republican sponsored. Most (402) have been rejected or failed before an important deadline, but 42 of them passed at least one state legislature before their death, and another eight would have become law had it not been for their state’s (usually Democratic) governor vetoed. And technically, there are still 127 voting restriction bills alive, including 20 that have passed at least one chamber. However, these bills are mostly either blocked by democratic governors or languish in committee (although they are still quite a long way from the passage). So the number of voting restrictions enacted here in 2021 is unlikely to go very far, if at all, above 52.
Even if nothing else happens, this is still an astonishing number in historical comparison. The Brennan Center for Justice has tracked the number of new election restrictions every year since 2011, and no year has come close to 2021: the previous high was that 19 voting restrictions It was enacted in 2011, a year after Republicans took full control of several state governments in the 2010 elections. In youngest years, the number from New limitations Has normally was in the singles Digits. (For example, 2020 only saw seven new voting restrictions Become law.)
The sheer number of laws – both passed and proposed – really underscores the high priority the GOP has had in tightening electoral laws since the 2020 elections. But it is also important to remember that a single law can contain numerous far-reaching voting restrictions. And as such, Texas‘S Senate Act 1 is probably the most comprehensive voting right restriction act since Florida’s SB 90.
SB 1 required Postal voting rights must include their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number on both their postal voting application and on their postal voting envelope; gives election observers “free movement” in the polling stations; calls on the Foreign Minister to check the voting lists of non-citizens; and creates more paperwork for people who help others fill out their ballots. It also bans certain means of encouraging voting that were used by heavily Democratic districts like Harris in last year’s election – including automatic postal voting to voters, drive-through voting, and 24-hour early voting. However, the law contains some Democrat-backed provisions, such as:
Here is a summary of the other 27 voting restrictions that have come into effect since our last update:
- Arizona has issued no fewer than five voting restrictions this year. The greatest outrage focused on SB 1485, making the permanent postal voting list of the state last until Remove voters who do not submit a postal vote in two consecutive election cycles and do not respond to a notification by post. But beyond that, the state now requires To be postal ballot paper with missing signatures healed by election day (instead of giving voters a five-day grace period) and make it one crime for election officials too Send postal ballot papers to someone who did not request it. The state also has two new laws that appear to target Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs: one that forbids election officials unilaterally changing election deadlines, and Another that gives the attorney general (who is a republican) sole power in electoral disputes – but only until January 2023 (when Hobbs’ term ends).
- Iowa was already over a big package of voting restrictions that year, but issued a second in June. This law requires voters who cast provisional ballots for lack of ID to return their ID by the end of the day for their ballot to be counted. The law also makes it difficult to set up an area code page and imposes several restrictions on “delivery agents” or people who help voters with disabilities: they must fill out a special form, cast no more than two ballots and they must present the ballot in person with identification hand them in at the election offices.
- A new law in Alabama prohibits voting on the roadside, enabling disabled voters and people at increased risk of COVID-19 to vote from their car outside a polling station. Two less controversial measures have also been added to the books: one deletes voters from registries if the U.S. Postal Service states they have changed their addresses and if the voter does not return a pre-addressed card that updates or confirms their address, and Another this means that the deadline for applying for a postal vote by post is postponed by two days (the deadline for applying in person remains the same).
- Montana now Prohibitions Preventing people from handing out other people’s postal ballot papers, a practice that is sometimes derided as “voting”. Indian groups and the American Civil Liberties Union are now sue to overturn the law, as well as a previous law that abolished same-day voter registration.
- Texas also passed four lesser known voting restrictions: one which enables the Foreign Minister to withhold funding from local electoral offices that do not remove voters from the register, as required by state law; one that spells out certain excuses that are not good reasons for applying for a postal vote; one this makes it a crime for electoral officials to knowingly count “invalid” votes; and one that forbids entering into a P.O. Crate. (The last law will challenged in court.)
- Two New Laws in New Hampshire Voting officials allow voters to be deleted from registers based on data from other states and require that photos be taken of voters who register on election day but do not present identification.
- Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana has signed invoice Election officials must search obituaries for registered voters and delete all deceased voters within 30 days.
- Idaho has a. enact new law This prohibits voters from changing their minds about which area code they want to vote in once they have been issued a postal ballot.
- In Utah, Voters now got to register with a political party by March 31 of an even year to vote in that party’s primary.
- A Invoice for larger budget funds in Ohio contains a provision prohibiting electoral officials from resolving complaints in a manner that is contrary to the country’s electoral law.
- new York became the rare blue state that restricted electoral access when passed law This enables less personal polling stations.
- Comprehensive election management invoice in North Dakota implements signature comparison for postal voting and limits voters to 30 minutes in the voting booth.
- Oklahoma moved up Postal voting application deadline so that voters now have eight days less time to apply for a postal vote. new York did it also, but only for sent Requests for postal voting; Eligible voters can apply for a postal vote personally on the day before the election. These laws actually received broad support by both Republicans and Democrats, as their intent was to avoid a situation where a voter requests a postal vote too late to be in time for the election. Even so, voting restrictions still apply as those wishing to receive a postal vote will have to plan significantly more in advance and the laws could still deprive voters of the right to vote.
- Likewise the democratic Trifecta state Nevada passed a spate of electoral laws this spring that expanded access to voting rights overall, but still put pressure on voters in two ways. First, as the downside of the state’s switch to predominantly postal voting, a law the amalgamation of personal polling stations allowed. second, as part of an effort to complete the vote count earlier, postal ballot papers have a little less leeway to arrive late. Ballot papers no longer have to arrive at the electoral offices on the seventh, but on the fourth day after the election in order to be counted.
Certainly some of these electoral laws are more burdensome than others. Overall, however, it is clear that both the severity and amount of election restrictions increased dramatically in 2021. We don’t know whether these changes will actually affect the election results (as many Democrats fear and at least a few Republicans Hope), many states will no doubt find it harder to vote in 2022 than it will in 2020.