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The Attack on Voting Rights in 2021

As of March 24th, 2021, the Brendan Center for Justice has found that state legislators have introduced a total of 361 restrictive provisions on voting rights in 47 out of 50 U.S. States. This number makes up all of the bills proposed since the 2020 Presidental election, and all of the claims surrounding voter fraud from the GOP. 5 bills limiting voting rights have already been passed in state legislatures, and with Republicans in control of a majority of state governments, more are probably going to follow. Here are example of common suppression tactics that these bills are covering, and why they are bad:

Anti Automatic Voter Registration 

(Current Bills in AK, AZ, GA, NJ)

Automatic Voter Registration is the idea that everyone will automatically be registered to vote when they turn 18, so young adults won’t have to go through the confusing voter registration process. Young voters often aren’t given the education and resources they need to know how to properly register to vote by themselves. This is solved by Automatic Voter Registration, which in turn, increases voter turnout. 

Stricter Voter ID Laws

(AK, AL, AR, AZ, CT, FL, GA, ID, IL, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OK, PA, TX, VA, WA, WV, WY)

Voter ID laws have been proven to disproportionately affect minority communities and cause an overall 2-3 percentage point decrease in voter turnout. There have only been 31 allegations of voter impersonation since 2000, which is a minuscule amount. When Voter ID laws are passed, states spend millions on trying to inform the public on them (Texas spent $2,000,000), which could go to other things like infrastructure or school systems. Again, they are also blatantly discriminatory as up to 25% of African-American citizens of voting age lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of white people. 

Absentee Ballots

(All EXCEPT DE, OH, ME)

After the 2020 election that thrived off of absentee ballots, which were used the most by democrats, Republicans are trying to limit the use of absentee ballots as an easy and convenient way to vote. States like Georgia are taking away the right for anyone to vote absentee unless they can really prove if need to. You now need a very specific reason. This is a problem for people who work all day and don’t have the time to get to the polls. This targets low-income voters who often aren’t in control of their schedule and are working long hours. 

Limiting Polling Places

(AR, AZ, GA, IA, IL, KY, MI, MT, NV, SC, TX)

Several states are trying to make it so that the number of polling places can be limited in a district. This would mean that some voters would have to drive miles and miles away from their homes, long lines, and eliminated ballot drop boxes in some cases. This would obviously make it harder to vote

Voter Purges 

(AL, AZ, CA, HI, IA, IL, LA, MI, MO, MS, MT, NH, NJ, PA, RI, SC, SD, TX, UT, VA, WV)

Voter purging is where the elections boards can delete hundreds or thousands of registered voters off the voter rolls for things as little as inactivity, not updating a changed address, or having a piece of official election mail returned. This targets voters who face housing insecurity, and also just the average voter whose mail might have been accidentally returned, or someone who hasn’t voted in a few election cycles. They often do not tell you if you’ve been purged, so you can show up to vote and be surprised that you are no longer registered. In Georgia, voter purging has been shown to affect black residents more than white ones. 

These are just a couple of examples of voter suppression tactics that are in bills across the country right now. Needless to say, these bills were proposed exclusively by conservative legislators, and we know that, statistically speaking, when there is a higher turnout, Democrats win. This is definitely a response to losing in 2020, and we should not let them enact tactics of voter suppression all over the country.   

By Andrew Kolar