Republican lawmakers across the country are preparing a series of new election restrictions following the defeat of former President Donald Trump.
Georgia will be the focus of the GOP’s push to change electoral laws after the Democrats narrowly took both Senate seats and President Joe Biden promoted the state by an even smaller margin. But state republicans in deep red states and on battlefields cite Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of 2020 election fraud – and the declining trust in electoral integrity that has fueled Trump – as an excuse to tighten access to the elections.
Some Republican officials have been frank about their motives: they don’t believe they can win if the rules don’t change. “They don’t have to change all of them, but they do have to change the major parts of them so that we have at least one chance to win,” said Alice O’Lenick, a Republican from Gwinnett County, Ga., Suburban Atlanta electoral committee. said the Gwinnett Daily Post last week. She has since then resisted requests to resign.
The chairman of the Republican Party of Texas has called on the local legislature to make “electoral integrity” the top legislative priority in 2021 and, among other things, to call for a reduction in the number of days of early voting. Jason Miller, a top Trump adviser, told the conservative side Just the news Trump plans to remain involved in the “voting integrity” effort and keep the issue on Republican minds. And VoteRiders, a nonprofit group that helps potential voters get ID when they need one to cast a ballot, is awaiting a serious push for new voter identification laws in at least five states, while North Carolina may have new guidelines for could implement identification of voters held in court.
Voter ID laws tend to be very popular with the public – a Pew Research survey 2018 found that three-quarters of Americans polled supported laws requiring voters to show photo ID – but activists say they are problematic for several different groups of voters.
“They are students and other young people, they are color communities, they are older adults who no longer drive, people on low incomes, people with disabilities,” said Kathleen Unger, founder of VoteRiders. VoteRiders estimated that up to 25 million voting age Americans did not have government-issued photo ID.
Georgia Republicans, in particular, are intensely focused on their state’s electoral laws after the state became the epicenter of Trump’s attempts to undermine confidence in the 2020 election results. Georgia Republicans have proposed a number of changes, from imposing restrictions on postal voting to restricting the use of Dropboxes, which allow people to return postal ballot papers without using the postal system.
The caucus of the Republican Senate has approved this End the non-excusing postal vote in Georgia, which was used disproportionately by democratic voters in the 2020 elections. (More than a third of Biden’s votes in Georgia were cast in the mail, up from just 18 percent of Trump’s votes.) Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has denied Trump’s fraud allegations, also said he supported the abolition of non-excusing postal voting because that The system was too strenuous for the local election administrators.
However, the state’s GOP legislators have yet to agree exactly what should be changed. Republican Governor Geoff Duncan, who is President of the Senate, told 11Alive News that he would not support ending the postal vote without an apology, and State House spokesman David Ralston also sounded skeptical about quitting the practice. Republicans are more universal in the need for absentee voters to submit a copy of ID when requesting or returning a ballot that would replace the state’s signature verification system. In Georgia, voters are required to show photo ID when voting in person.
“I think that’s the most likely thing to get into law,” said Senator Larry Walker, vice chairman of the Republican Senate. Walker said he was “very supportive” of this change and said his constituents were deeply concerned, saying he had received thousands of emails, letters and texts.
“A large percentage of my voters have lost confidence in the integrity of our electoral system,” he said. “So we’re going to try to address a few things that we believe can restore public confidence in the system.”
He also denied this claim that changes would disenfranchise voters, citing the state’s high turnout. “I don’t think any of these ideas are burdensome or overly restrictive or lead to what I would consider voter suppression,” he said.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a non-partisan organization, 36 states have implemented some form of voter ID law. The NCSL classified Georgia As “strong photo ID”, this means that voters without an approved ID must vote on a preliminary ballot and take steps after the election to have their ballot counted.
But Georgia is unique among the closest battlefield states in 2020 with Republicans in control of the governorship and both houses of the state assembly. That excludes Democrats who are largely opposed to the electoral card law or other proposed election changes, such as limiting postal votes. Democratic governors in states with Republican legislatures like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin could veto changes to electoral law if there is no bipartisan agreement on what to change.
“Given the disposition of governments in them, I’m not sure that many of them will really be able to walk the distance the way Georgia will,” said Jason Snead, the executive director of the Honest Elections Project, one conservative group. “But I think there is sure to be a lot of interest in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin.”
In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers have signaled their intention to introduce it Voter ID Acts and try to repeal those of the state Non-partisan law that allows postal voting without excuseseven though the Democratic governor Tom Wolf stands in their way. The problem could drag on through the 2022 midterm elections when Republicans attempt to retake governorship.
“It’s no secret that more changes to the electoral law need to be made,” said Seth Grove Republican of Pennsylvania, a chairman of the House State Government Committee, at a state electoral law hearing Thursday afternoon, noting that both Democrats and Republicans have proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s electoral law. Thursday’s hearing was the first of a total of 14 electoral law hearings.
In Arizona, another swing state that Biden barely led, the Senate Republicans have passed laws that would lead to it more automatic recounts. Some Republicans also passed laws to abolish the state’s permanent early voting list – which a majority of voters are registered for – despite being a co-founder of the law said the Republic of Arizona“It can’t go away and I don’t want to waste my time on it.”
And in North Carolina, the state’s policy of late identification of voters could go into effect before the 2022 midterm elections. In 2018, voters approved a constitutional amendment that required a voter ID card but was prevented by a federal judge from going into effect for the 2020 cycle. A federal appeals judge canceled an order Implementation is effectively blocked, but there is ongoing litigation in both state and federal courts over the law.
“Electoral integrity, electoral security, these issues are going nowhere,” said Snead. “And I firmly believe that if a legislature in a given state doesn’t pass reform in this cycle, it doesn’t mean they’ll never pass reform, does it?”