In response to former President Trump’s continued lies about voter fraud, legislators across the country are aggressively attempting to limit voting access and roll back the gains of an election conducted during a deadly pandemic. These proposed bills will make it harder to vote, target voters of color, and take aim at the very election changes — such as mail voting — that made the 2020 election not only successful but possible.
Each year, the Brennan Center publishes regular roundups of voting legislation around the country. In 2021, these updates have taken on new importance. As of Feb. 19, 2021, legislators in 43 states have carried over, prefiled, or introduced more than 250 bills that would make it harder to vote — over seven times the number of restrictive bills as compared to roughly this time last year. These bills primarily seek to limit mail voting and impose stricter voter ID requirements.
This campaign of voter suppression makes legislation currently before Congress essential. Both the For the People Act (H.R. 1/S. 1) and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would enact commonsense reforms to make voting easier as well as protect voters of color from racial discrimination in voting.
During the same timeframe, pro-voter legislators, often in the very same state houses, are pushing back, seeking to make permanent the changes that led to the biggest voter turnout in over a century. In a different set of 43 states, legislators have carried over, prefiled, or introduced more than 700 bills that, if enacted, would make it easier for people to vote. These bills primarily seek to expand access to mail voting and early voting, ease voter registration, and restore voting rights to persons with past convictions.
At this time, almost all state legislative sessions have begun. The next roundup in this series will track which bills — both expansive and restrictive — are advancing.