Well, Republicans are still at the voter suppression game. Thirty-three states have introduced over 165 bills to restrict voting access. The are generally in 4 areas: limiting voting by mail, stricter ID requirements, reducing opportunities to register to vote, and have more aggressive voter roll purges.[i]
Arizona has been the most aggressive with 19 restrictive bills, followed by Pennsylvania, Georgia, and New Hampshire.
The most popular target of the bills is voting by mail. These bills would require an “excuse” to be allowed to vote by mail. They are trying to make it harder to obtain a mail in ballot. Some states have a permanent mail in voting registration so voters don’t have to apply every year, some states are looking to eliminate or restrict that. Other states send mail in ballots to voters with a direct request; those rules are also under attack. Arizona’s bill would make it a felony to send a ballot to someone without specific request and Oklahoma is proposing an amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit delivery of an absentee ballot to anyone who has not submitted an application that has been notarized or signed before two witnesses.
Other mail in voting restrictions include limitations on assisting someone in delivering a mail in ballot, requiring ballots be notarized, and requiring copies of Driver Licenses be sent with the ballot. There are also proposed limits on return of the ballots, including the use of mail, requiring the ballot be returned in person, eliminating ballot drop boxes and requiring ID when returning ballots in person.
Bills have also been introduced to make the ballot counting process more difficult by making tougher signature matching requirements, more poll watchers, and stricter deadlines for postmark or receipt.
The next target is Voter ID. Eighteen states have introduced 40 bills looking to make voter ID more stringent.
Other bills seek to reduce people’s ability to register to vote including requiring ID to register, eliminating election day registration, and eliminating automatic voter registration.
Twenty-one bills have been introduced in twelve states to more aggressively purge voter rolls.
It is important to remember that these are still bills and not laws. We all have an opportunity to contact our state legislators to let them know what we think of these attempts to limit voting rights.
It is also important to know that thirty-seven states have introduced 541 bills to expand voting rights. They also focus on mail in voting, early voting, voter registration, and restoring voting rights to disenfranchised voters.
While voter suppression is a long-standing practice in American politics, I find it to particularly violate the ideals of American society. One person, one vote, is a founding principal of democracies. Of course, history has had many definitions of “person” and that is shameful, but we have laws that guarantee the vote to all adults, with a big caveat for incarcerated persons or those with felony convictions.
These proposed limitations seek to deprive qualified people from voting, which is a desperate tactic by Republicans to gain or hold power by preventing non-Republicans from voting. It is wrong should be stopped.
The author[s] is solely responsible for this blog submission. It does not represent the position of the New York State Bar Association or its Committee.