After Trump Failed to Overturn 2020 Election, Republicans Are Trying to Steal the Next One

Feb 4, 2021
In The News

A decade ago Republicans passed new voter ID laws and other efforts to curtail voting rights when they took power in the states following Barack Obama’s election. Now they’re taking that strategy to the next level — trying to accomplish through legislation what Trump couldn’t with litigation. All in all, these efforts amount to the most concerted attempts to roll back voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Georgia Republicans have already introduced an avalanche of new laws that would radically limit voting options in the state. On Monday — the first day of Black History Month — Republicans in the state Senate introduced nine bills to restrict access to the ballot, including eliminating automatic voter registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and mail ballot drop boxes, as well as prohibiting third party groups from sending mail ballot applications, and banning people who move to Georgia after the general election from voting in runoff elections. Many of the bills were sponsored by Republicans who backed Texas’ unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Supreme Court to throw out election results from Georgia and other states carried by Biden. These bills come on the heels of another bill that would require voters to submit physical copies of photo identification twice to vote by mail, once when they request a mail-in ballot and again when they return it.… Establishment Georgia Republicans like Raffensperger publicly rebuked Trump’s attempt to subvert the election results — holding three recounts of the presidential election that found zero evidence of fraud — but now the GOP seems determined to weaponize Trump’s lies about voter fraud to suit their own political ends after the state voted for Biden and sent two Democrats to the US Senate. Raffensperger, who became a liberal darling for standing up to Trump, has endorsed calls to end no-excuse absentee voting and add voter ID for mail-in ballots. Georgia is a microcosm of how state-level Republicans are dramatically escalating a decade-long strategy to make it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote following record turnout in 2020. A recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that 106 bills have already been introduced in 28 states to restrict access to the ballot, three times the number at the same point this year. “These proposals primarily seek to: (1) limit mail voting access; (2) impose stricter voter ID requirements; (3) limit successful pro-voter registration policies; and (4) enable more aggressive voter roll purges,” the report says. “These bills are an unmistakable response to the unfounded and dangerous lies about fraud that followed the 2020 election.” Seventeen of these states are under full GOP control, increasing the likelihood that restrictive legislation will pass there. Republican state legislators in Arizona, which Biden carried by 10,500 votes, have introduced at least 34 bills to reduce voter access, in a state where 80 percent of voters cast ballots by mail.…The most extreme bill would allow the GOP-controlled legislature to override the secretary of state’s certification of election results and appoint its own electors to nullify the popular vote choice of the voters — which Trump tried and failed to persuade them to do in 2020.… In Pennsylvania, another state where Republicans spread baseless claims of fraud in an attempt to overturn Biden’s victory, legislative Republicans have introduced 14 bills to make it harder to vote, among the most in the country.… Republicans in New Hampshire and Montana have introduced legislation to repeal Election Day registration, which increases voter turnout by as much as 10 percent. Republicans in Alaska, like in Georgia, want to eliminate automatic voter registration, which was approved by 65 percent of voters in 2016. Republicans in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Mississippi have introduced bills to allocate electoral votes based on congressional districts instead of the popular vote winner of the state, which would’ve reduced Biden’s Electoral College margin by 11 votes.... Democrats will be largely powerless to block many of these laws through the legislative process in states like Georgia, Arizona, and New Hampshire that Republicans control. But with Democrats in charge of Congress and the White House, the party can pass federal measures like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and sweeping pro-democracy reforms that could stop GOP voter suppression efforts. That will only happen, however, if they eliminate the filibuster, which Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have said they will not do. Senate Democrats now face a critical choice—they can preserve what Obama has called a “Jim Crow relic” relic and allow Republicans to undermine democracy for the next decade, which could cost them key state races, the House in 2022, and the presidency in 2024. Or they could eliminate one anti-democratic feature of the political system in order to put a stop to many more.