OTP 2-Part Series to Examine Voter Suppression and Gerrymandering
Voter suppression and gerrymandering are the tools the Republicans are using to win elections. They are not interested in democracy, only Republican rule. A report from the Brennan Center For Justice “a nonpartisan law and policy institute,” details the lengths the GOP is going to, in order to suppress the vote across the country and how many states are pushing in the opposite direction.
Below are excerpts from the Brennan Center report on voter suppression. Gerrymandering, where the party in power draws legislative districts guaranteeing their win, is a whole different line of attack we’ll look at next week.
“In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced well over four times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to roughly this time last year. Thirty-three states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020).
“Of course, other state lawmakers are seizing on an energized electorate and persistent interest in democracy reform (which is likewise reflected in Congress). To date, thirty-seven states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 541 bills to expand voting access (dwarfing the 188 expansive bills that were filed in twenty-nine states as of February 3, 2020). Notably 125 such bills were introduced in New York and New Jersey.
“With unprecedented numbers of voters casting their ballots by mail in 2020, legislators across the country have shown particular interest in absentee voting reform, with more than a quarter of voting and election bills addressing absentee voting procedures. Only six of the forty-four states that have introduced election bills have not proposed policies to alter absentee voting procedures in some way.
“Thus far this year, thirty-three states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 bills to restrict voting access. These proposals primarily seek to: (1) limit mail voting access; (2) impose stricter voter ID requirements; (3) slash voter registration opportunities; and (4) enable more aggressive voter roll purges. These bills are an unmistakable response to the unfounded and dangerous lies about fraud that followed the 2020 election.
“Arizona leads the nation in proposed voter suppression legislation in 2021, with 19 restrictive bills. Pennsylvania comes in second with 14 restrictive policy proposals, followed by Georgia (11 bills), and New Hampshire (10 bills).
“Nearly half of restrictive bills introduced this year seek to limit mail voting. Legislators are taking aim at mail voting at every stage, with proposals to circumscribe who can vote by mail, make it harder to obtain mail ballots, and impose hurdles to complete and cast mail ballots.
“Making it harder to obtain ballots: Arizona and Pennsylvania have introduced bills that would eliminate the permanent early voter list. Bills in Arizona, Hawaii, and New Jersey would eliminate permanent absentee voting lists, and Florida would reduce the length of time a voter could remain on the absentee list without having to reapply.
“Six bills in New Jersey and Arizona would make it easier for officials to remove voters from the permanent absentee list.
“Nine proposals in seven states would restrict election officials’ ability to send absentee ballots to voters without a specific request. Arizona’s proposal would make it a felony to affirmatively send an absentee ballot to anyone not on the permanent early voter list. Oklahoma’s bill proposes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to prohibit delivery of an absentee ballot to anyone who has not submitted an application notarized or signed by two witnesses.
“In addition, four states are considering bills to prevent the affirmative sending of absentee ballot applications to voters without a specific request. Bills in Connecticut and New York would restrict who can submit absentee ballot applications on another voter’s behalf.
“Restrictions on assistance to voters: A single Arizona bill would further restrict who can assist voters in collecting and delivering mail ballots (existing policy already limits such assistance to family and household members), add a voter ID requirement for turning in mail ballots in person, and require all mail ballots to be notarized. Legislators in eight other states have proposed bills to impose or increase strict limits on who can assist in returning a voter’s ballot, while a South Carolina bill would impose a photo ID requirement for anyone returning another person’s absentee ballot.
“Witness signatures: Four states have introduced legislation to make it harder to satisfy existing witness requirements. Arizona’s bill would also require all mail ballots to be notarized. South Carolina’s bill would require a witness to include their driver’s license or state voter registration number, and two Virginia bills would ask witnesses to print their name and provide their residential address.
“More burdensome signature matching requirements. In South Carolina, where a federal court had enjoined signature matching before the November 2020 election, proposed legislation would affirmatively impose a signature matching requirement for absentee ballots. Likewise, in Pennsylvania — where the state supreme court ruled that ballots could not be rejected based solely based on mismatched signatures — two proposals would require rejection of absentee ballots on that basis unless the perceived mismatch is cured within six days of notification.
“Increased poll watcher access. At least seven states have introduced legislation to increase poll watcher access to absentee ballot processing and canvassing activities.
“Legislators in eighteen states have introduced 40 bills to impose new or more stringent voter ID requirements for in-person or mail voting.
“In ten states that do not require voters to present photo ID at the polls to cast a regular ballot, legislators have introduced bills to impose an ID requirement.
“Slashing Voter Registration Opportunities:
“Legislators in Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi, and New York have introduced bills requiring voters to produce proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Meanwhile, Texas lawmakers introduced a bill stripping voter registration authority from county clerks and requiring the secretary of state to send voter registration information to the Department of Public Safety for citizenship verification.
“Ten bills have been introduced to cut back on opportunities for election day registration, with legislators in five states introducing bills to eliminate election day registration entirely.
“A New Jersey bill would suspend automatic voter registration pending implementation of fraud prevention standards and procedures.
“Twelve states have introduced 21 different bills that would expand voter roll purges or adopt flawed practices that would risk improper purges.”