Trump’s false claims of voter fraud inspire flurry of voting restriction bills

“They are all based on the ‘big lie’, the idea that Trump won the election, that there was widespread electoral fraud,” said Nse Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project. “The ‘big lie’ is the engine or fuel that drove the January 6th uprising in many ways. It is also the fuel that powers those anti-voting bills that we see across the country. “

If they were passed, critics warn, the policy would have a disproportionate impact on democratic constituencies such as young voters, poor voters and color voters and, following a historic turnout last fall, erect barriers to the ballot box.

“There is absolutely no coincidence as to the people who will be affected and when it will be affected,” said Nancy Abudu, assistant legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Action Fund, a branch of the SPLC that prioritizes litigation for impact such as Voting rights and criminal justice reform.

Some voting advocates put their hopes on the federal government, where steps are being taken to make it easier for Americans to vote. President Joe Biden signed an executive order promoting access to voting on March 7, the anniversary of Blood Sunday, a touchstone of civil rights. And days earlier, the House passed major electoral reforms to expand voting rights.

At the state level, a number of bills were introduced last autumn. But so far only three states – Iowa, Arkansas and Utah – This year, following an analysis of the legislation at the state level, passed new restrictive electoral or electoral laws The Brennan Center for Justice has found it to be restrictive.

Arizona and Pennsylvania, two states that Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020, lead the nation in the number of voter suppression laws proposed this year. according to the Brennan Centerwho has tracked at least 250 restrictive bills in 43 state legislatures.

But the state that is receiving undue attention to efforts to restrict voting is Georgia, where Republicans lost the presidential election in November and two runoff elections in the Senate in January, giving the Democrats in Washington control of the chamber. One of these senators, Raphael Warnock, is up for re-election next year alongside Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Last month, a battalion of Georgia Republicans introduced collective bills into the State House and Senate – Bills that are likely to be passed in the GOP-heavy legislature. S.B. 241, which passed the Senate last Monday, would eliminate an apologetic absentee ballot and require identification such as a state driver’s license, voter ID, or social security number to apply for absentee ballots and submit postal ballot papers.

Garland Favorito, co-founder of VOTER GA – Voters Organized for Trusted Election Results in Georgia, a conservative group founded in 2006 to “advocate open and secure electoral procedures and processes to ensure accurate and verifiable elections” – accused both parties To “leverage”. Electoral integrity for their own benefit. “

“In Article 1, the Democrats are trying to take control of the country through a series of unconstitutional provisions,” said Favorito. “In Georgia, Republicans are trying to consolidate their power through certain electoral provisions in the ruling laws that do not benefit President Trump, and most of them do not benefit the people of Georgia.”

“There was no way we lost Georgia.”

In the past year, many states expanded postal voting due to the coronavirus pandemic and offered voters an alternative to personal voting. Postal and in-person votes, however, have become politicized, with Democrats voting mostly by mail and Republicans mostly turning out in person.

Still, 2020 was the largest turnout of all time: 81 million voters supported Joe Biden Democrat over Trump, whose 74 million votes are the second most popular in US history.

But it was Georgia, a state with a rapidly changing population structure, that determined the election for Biden in one of the closest races of the presidential election.

After the election, Trump claimed, “There is no way we lost Georgia,” and in an hour-long phone call, Brad Raffensperger pressured Georgian Foreign Secretary to “find 11,780 votes, one more than us.” Because we won the state. “

Raffensperger did not give in to Trump’s print campaign, but Republican lawmakers in Georgia backed Trump’s false claims and called for a special term before the January runoff to examine evidence of electoral fraud. Their demands include the requirement of a notary or a photo ID for postal ballot papers. Many GOP members also supported an election campaign in Texas against Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

All but three of the 34 Republican Senators are co-sponsors of S.B. 241, which Democrats vehemently oppose. Last Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan defended the bill before the vote while protesters opposed the legislation outside the state capitol Chained themselves together and staged a sit-in.

Dugan said driver’s license and voter ID numbers have been free for the past decade and urged his colleagues to work with him to help the 3 percent of Georgians who don’t have ID or social security cards.

He also denied allegations that abolishing postal voting without an apology would limit eligibility to vote in the mail, arguing that 2.7 million voters meet the range of valid apologies, the nearly 1.8 million people who were absent in 2020 would far exceed and double the 1.3 million ballots adopted last year.

After a Republican-controlled general assembly passed an apologetic absentee ballot in 2005, Dugan said the number of voters using this voting method “remained relatively small and consistent, and did not place undue burden on election officials.”

“That has changed,” he said. “The increasing burden on local election offices and the increased costs for each of our districts have increased significantly. … There is a third factor that is perhaps even more important to me. Unfortunately, the highest rate of ballots rejected is those that are sent in the mail. “

In an interview, Eliza Sweren-Becker, a lawyer for the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice, suggested that the absence regime was short-sighted.

“We don’t know yet whether the surge in mail votes we saw last year will continue in the same way in future elections,” she said. “So it is very short-sighted to restrict email voting for some kind of partisan game based on just a single election held during a pandemic when many more voters used email voting than historically was the case. “

H.B. 531Who passed the State House earlier this month would require voters to include their Georgia driver’s license or ID number – or a photocopy of ID – on postal voting requests. Reduce the number of days voters must request absentee ballots, access to Dropboxes and limit early voting on weekends.

“The way we are beginning to restore confidence in our voting system is to get this bill passed,” said Republican MP Barry Fleming, chairman of the Special Committee on Electoral Integrity and co-sponsor of the bill. “There are many sensible things to do here to start this process.”

Some of the law’s Republican co-sponsors – Fleming, Jan Jones, and Rick Williams – didn’t respond to requests for an interview.

Before the bill was passed in the House of Representatives, however, GOP lawmakers made speeches in which they justified the provisions as common sense reforms, such as limiting the timetable for requesting postal votes. Under current law, voters can request a postal vote from 180 days before the election day until the Friday before the election day. The bill would shorten this period to 11 weeks before election day by the second Friday before election day.

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