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Politics Republican state lawmakers look to pass stricter voting requirements. This is how they would work.

11:25  04 april  2021
11:25  04 april  2021 Source:   news.yahoo.com

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  How Republicans’ efforts to restrict mail voting could backfire Republicans are trying to dismantle their own mail-in voting systems.The effort to implement voter restrictions on one level seems odd. Republicans made gains in the House of Representatives, and outperformed polls in competitive Senate races, suggesting they aren’t having trouble winning elections under the current laws.

Even before he was officially sworn in as president, Donald Trump promoted conspiracy theories about illegal voting. Despite winning the Electoral College in 2016, Trump couldn’t admit he had actually lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, instead claiming without evidence that she had received millions of illegal votes.

Trump made his baseless election fraud accusations again going into the 2020 election and escalated them after Joe Biden was declared the winner, with Trump and many of his supporters refusing to acknowledge his defeat. The widespread belief among Republicans that the election was illegitimate culminated in a “Stop the Steal” rally headlined by Trump on Jan. 6, the day Congress met to officially certify Biden as the winner of the election. Militant Trump supporters then stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the results.

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Anxiety among Republicans about voter fraud predates Trump, although it has currently reached a fever pitch among the faithful due to Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric. And while election experts acknowledge that incidents of voter fraud do occur on occasion, it’s never widespread enough to affect the outcome of a statewide or national election.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Then-President Donald Trump at the White House on Nov. 5. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! News Then-President Donald Trump at the White House on Nov. 5. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“After decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged,” Ben Ginsberg, a lawyer who spent decades as a top GOP election expert and advised nearly every GOP nominee over the last 20 years, including Trump, wrote in September.

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However, in the wake of Trump’s defeat, numerous Republican-controlled state legislatures are looking to pass “election integrity” measures that will effectively make it more difficult for people to vote.

To justify their efforts to make the process of voting harder, Republican politicians have started a self-contained loop of “concerns.” They argue that regular Americans are worried about irregularities in the election process, despite there being no evidence there were serious problems in the last election. And critics note that a major reason so many Americans are worried about election integrity is that Trump and his allies continue to push the baseless belief that the November election was beset by widespread fraud.

In his speech Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump once again implied that he had won the last election and that elections in America are in need of urgent reform. “We need election integrity and election reform immediately,” Trump said. “Republicans should be the party of honest elections that can give everyone confidence in the future of our country. Without honest elections, who has confidence?”

Voting rights: Democratic-led states eye expansion amid GOP push to restrict access

  Voting rights: Democratic-led states eye expansion amid GOP push to restrict access Virginia and New Jersey this week joined other Democratic-led states moving ahead with new laws that would expand voting access -- a stark contrast to the Republican rush in statehouses across the country to make voting more difficult. © Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images Voters fill out their ballots at an early voting center at the Mount Vernon Governmental Center on October 31, 2020 in Alexandria, Virginia. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, which has tracked voting measures across the country, 843 bills that would expand voting access, largely offered by Democrats, have been introduced in 47 states.

According to an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice, there are four times as many bills to restrict voting across the 50 state legislatures as there were a year ago. And there is little at the federal level to impede these efforts, after a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby v. Holder that gutted much of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark 1965 law that overturned restrictions that had largely prevented Black Americans from voting in most of the South. Democrats have urged Congress to move forward with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which they say will help restore the lost provisions of the VRA, including those that protected the rights of minority voters, among others.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court — now with six Republican-appointed justices — is hearing another voting rights case this week that could further diminish the Voting Rights Act.

Here are some of the measures currently being considered, proposed and passed at the state level by Republicans that will make it more difficult for residents there to vote.

Georgia

a group of people in a room: Voters casting ballots for the Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5 in Atlanta. (Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! News Voters casting ballots for the Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5 in Atlanta. (Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

After seeing Democrats win the state’s electoral votes and both Senate seats, Republicans in both chambers of the Legislature have proposed measures that would make it more difficult for many people to vote, especially during the ongoing pandemic. One of the big changes proposed in the state Senate bill would be to eliminate at-will absentee voting, limiting it to older Georgians and those suffering from a physical disability. (Biden won absentee ballots by 30 points in November.)

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“The goal of our process here should be an attempt to restore the confidence of our public in our elections system,” said Barry Fleming, a Republican state legislator and chairman of the new state House Special Committee on Election Integrity, despite Georgia election officials stressing all November that their election system had worked as intended.

On Monday, the Republican-controlled state House passed HB 531, which would tighten the application period for absentee ballots, require voter identification for mail-in ballots and reduce drop-box locations and availability.

The legislation — which will have to pass the GOP-controlled state Senate and be signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp — would also severely limit early voting on Sunday, a measure critics have said is designed to reduce Black turnout, eliminating the “Souls to the Polls” events in which groups would vote after church services. One analysis found that while Black voters were approximately 30 percent of Georgia’s electorate in 2020, they made up 36 percent of Sunday voters.

“I think I’m a pretty good judge of when the people in power are trying to maintain the power, through laws that are born of prejudice and fear,” said Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler last week, adding, “If you don’t want to be associated with the Jim Crow South, stop leading the charge to take us back there.”

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The Peach State became a focal point for voting right activists following the 2018 gubernatorial election, in which Democrat Stacey Abrams lost a close race to Kemp, who was serving as secretary of state at the time. The state purged from the rolls tens of thousands of voters who would have otherwise been eligible, while Kemp accused Democrats of trying to hack the voter registration system days before the election, but an investigation found no hacking attempt.

Abrams’s group, Fair Fight, has been outspoken in its condemnation of the new proposals and last week launched a major ad campaign attempting to turn public opinion against them.

Iowa

Kim Reynolds brushing her teeth: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! News Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Despite there being no known instances of election fraud last year in Iowa, the state’s Republican-majority Legislature has passed a bill that would tighten its voting requirements and make it more difficult for people to vote.

The legislation on Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’s desk would reduce the number of early voting days from 29 to 20 and close polls at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m., among other things. The bill, authored by Republican state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, passed both the state’s House and Senate last week.

Iowa Democrats have denounced the bill as voter suppression, and said the legislation is unnecessary, the Des Moines Register reported. “Why are we doing this in Iowa?” Rep. Sharon Steckman, a Democrat, said, per the Register. “We had no fraud. We had a record turnout. People were happy with the way they got to vote absentee — a million people.”

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Kaufmann told local news outlet CBS 2 that the bill doesn’t have “anything to do with fraud.” He seemed to describe the legislation as an attempt to address potential issues with voting in the future.

“I believe government should be run like a business,” he said. “And what do you do when you have a successful year in business? You don't put it on autopilot and hope it replicates itself.”

Reynolds hasn’t said publicly whether she plans to sign the bill.

Arizona

Michelle Ugenti-Rita et al. looking at the camera: Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita. (Bob Christie/AP) © Provided by Yahoo! News Arizona state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita. (Bob Christie/AP)

Republican lawmakers in Arizona, a battleground state during the presidential election that helped push Joe Biden to victory, have introduced voting bills that would add stricter limits on mail-in voting and allow the Legislature to hold a special session after the next presidential election to “review or investigate the results.”

Under the proposed mail-in voting bill, a voter who does not vote via early ballot in both the primary election and the general election for two consecutive primary and general elections in a federal or state legislative race would be removed from the state’s permanent early-voting list.

The bill says that by Dec. 1 of each even-numbered year, the county recorder or an election official must send a notice to each voter on the list who hasn’t voted in the last two elections. If the voter wants to stay on the list, the person must confirm it in writing and return the notice to the county recorder within 30 days after the notice was sent.

The Associated Press reported that the bill would purge by about 200,000 people the list of voters who automatically get mail-in ballots.

The legislation, introduced by Republican Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, failed on the Senate floor when fellow Republican Sen. Paul Boyer opposed the bill, along with 14 Democrats, AP reported. But Senate lawmakers brought the amended bill back last week, and Boyer indicated that he no longer has issues with the legislation.

How Georgia's new voting law compares to other states

  How Georgia's new voting law compares to other states Georgia's new voting law has sparked outrage from Democrats and even been called "Jim Crow on steroids" by President Joe Biden, but many of its provisions have governed elections in other states across the country for years. From voter ID requirements to ballot drop boxes, and early voting schedules to absentee ballot access, there is little new or unique in the freshly minted Georgia rules. In fact, many of the measures critics are attacking have long been in place in blue states, including Biden's home state of Delaware.

Another Senate bill would allow the Legislature to hold a special session after future presidential elections to review the results before certifying the slate of presidential electors.

Both bills were proposed after Trump and his allies alleged voter fraud in Arizona, a state that Trump won in 2016 and that Biden narrowly flipped in the 2020 election. Democratic opponents of the bills say the legislation is an attempt to disenfranchise voters.

“Why even have a presidential election, why have voters vote on it, if essentially the Legislature is going to be able to override whatever the voters vote for?” Democratic state Sen. Sean Bowie said, according to CNN.

Florida

Ron DeSantis wearing a suit and tie: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! News Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican and fervent Trump supporter, is calling for a series of proposals that would “address ballot harvesting” and limit the mass mailing of vote-by-mail ballots. “Ballot harvesting” is the collection of absentee ballots by third parties, and is a process that has been utilized by both Republicans and Democrats.

DeSantis on Feb. 19 proposed new measures that would crack down on mail-in ballots by getting rid of mass mailing, allowing only voters who request a ballot to receive one. Currently, a person who requests a mail-ballot will receive one for two general elections.

The proposals would also require that vote-by-mail ballot signatures match the most recent signature on file, and would “address ballot harvesting so that no person may possess ballots other than their own and immediate family,” according to DeSantis’s office.

The governor said during a Feb. 19 speech that Florida had the “most transparent and efficient” election in the country, raising the question of why such legislation is necessary.

“We need to make sure that our citizens have confidence in the elections, that they have the ability to vote,” DeSantis said. “We want, obviously, everyone to vote. But we don't want anyone to cheat.”

Wisconsin

Striking the same tone as other Republican state lawmakers in the country, two Wisconsin senators seeking to “restore confidence” in the election process have introduced a set of proposals that would impose more restrictions on voting.

One proposal would require people who are “indefinitely confined because of age, physical illness or infirmity” to provide a copy of their ID with their absentee ballot application. Wisconsin law currently allows such voters to have a witness sign their application to prove their identity in lieu of providing identification.

Another bill would only permit ballot drop boxes that are attached to the building that houses the municipal clerk’s office.

The bills are unlikely to make it past Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat who does not support stricter voting laws.

The state was one of many where Trump and his allies spread discredited claims of voter fraud after Trump lost Wisconsin to Biden.

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How Georgia's new voting law compares to other states .
Georgia's new voting law has sparked outrage from Democrats and even been called "Jim Crow on steroids" by President Joe Biden, but many of its provisions have governed elections in other states across the country for years. From voter ID requirements to ballot drop boxes, and early voting schedules to absentee ballot access, there is little new or unique in the freshly minted Georgia rules. In fact, many of the measures critics are attacking have long been in place in blue states, including Biden's home state of Delaware.

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