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5 State Laws Based on Voter Fraud Myths that Will Hamper Future Elections

The plot to overturn the 2020 election failed, but false claims about voter fraud have successfully fueled legislation that will make it harder to vote.

As the January 6 committee hearings have made clear, the attack on the Capitol was fueled by false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. While the insurrection failed, the damage from the Big Lie of a “stolen” election is ongoing.

2021 and 2022 have been record-breaking years for new legislative attacks on voting and election administration. Brennan Center research has found that most of the legislation has been fueled and justified by misinformation. And in upcoming elections, voters and election officials will have to navigate new burdens imposed by some of these laws. Here are a few examples of the effects of the Big Lie that voters will face this fall.


Georgia was the subject of a storm of litigation over the 2020 election, threats of violence and harassment toward election officials and voters, and targeted attempts to change the election results — including an hour-long phone call in which Trump urged the state’s top election official to “find” enough votes for him to win. Despite their universal failure in court, many of the Big Lie–inspired false claims made in these lawsuits motivated legislative provisions that will be in place for the 2022 elections.

Georgia Senate Bill 202 

GA S.B. 202, enacted last year, responds to the lies pushed in these baseless lawsuits with remarkable precision. In one case, a plaintiff falsely claimed that private funds were provided to Fulton County to “pay ballot harvesters” and to “pay for . . . the plan to remove the poll watch­ers from one polit­ical party so that the crit­ical responsibility of determining . . . the validity of the count could be conducted without oversight.” She also alleged that “absentee voting records demonstrate illegal votes being counted and legal votes not being counted” in excess of 50,000 votes.

Other cases claimed that the state’s use of drop boxes somehow increased the risk of fraud — another popular Big Lie conspiracy theory. Courts rejected these lawsuits, and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s testimony to the January 6 committee thoroughly debunked these claims.

However, S.B. 202 seemingly validates these allegations by prohibiting local election administrators from accepting funding from private sources and expanding the legal rights of poll watchers to observe elections without constraints by election administrators. The law also limits the availability of drop boxes and restricts access to mail voting by imposing stricter identification requirements for absentee voters and shortening the window to apply for absentee ballots. Tellingly, one of S.B. 202’s cosponsors echoed widespread conspiracies supporting the Big Lie, suggesting in an op-ed that unreliable mail ballots changed the outcome of certain races in 2020.

Georgia Senate Bill 441

Although there is absolutely no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia or any other state, S.B. 441 grants the Georgia Bureau of Investigation the authority to investigate voter fraud and refer any perceived violations for prosecution. This bill directs even more resources toward investigating fraud and opens up the risk of politically motivated prosecutions, which is particularly concerning when viewed alongside the range of new penalties created by S.B. 202. 

County-Specific Bills

In addition to challenging certain voting methods, election denialists directly attacked local election officials in court, blaming them for the results of the 2020 election and accusing them of misconduct. Over a dozen lawsuits were filed against county boards of elections, alleging fraud and seeking to block certification or overturn the election results.

The Georgia legislature responded to these cases as well by wresting power from certain county boards of elections, creating the potential for partisan interference in the administration of elections. These county boards are responsible for administering elections, counting votes, and certifying results. S.B. 202 grants the state board of elections the authority to interfere with how local elections are run by removing professional election officials and taking control of election administration in specific jurisdictions.

Additionally, Georgia passed at least eight county-specific bills since 2020 that restructure local boards of elections. These restructurings have often led to greater partisan advantage and in particular have removed Black Democrats from several boards.


The Big Lie took particular hold in Florida, where top state officials embraced conspiracy theories and stoked doubt about the outcome of the 2020 election. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) publicly questioned the 2020 results, claiming, “vote dumps . . . happening a day or two or three days after Election Night, so you have one candidate that has a huge win, and then all of a sudden, fortunes change.” 

Florida Senate Bill 90

Shortly after DeSantis made these statements, the state enacted S.B. 90, an omnibus voter suppression law that makes it significantly harder for voters to cast their ballots in the state.

The law is based on many Big Lie conspiracies, restricting access to mail voting, drop boxes, and voter assistance. Among its provisions, S.B. 90 adds stricter voter ID requirements for voters requesting absentee ballots, requires constant monitoring of drop boxes, reduces the availability of drop boxes outside of early voting hours, and makes it significantly more difficult for civic organizations to assist people in registering to vote. 

Florida Senate Bill 524

Florida also enacted S.B. 524, which creates a new Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Florida Department of State, responsible for investigating violations of election law and referring them for prosecution. Like S.B. 441 in Georgia, Florida’s S.B. 524 directs additional resources toward investigating and prosecuting election crimes and threatens to enable partisan interference in election administration. Florida’s recently appointed secretary of state, who will oversee the new office, is a prominent supporter of election conspiracies and has refused to say President Biden won the 2020 election.


Texas was the source of a raft of conspiracy theories and attempts to use the court system to throw out validly cast votes or even overturn the election entirely. For example, several lawsuits challenged drive-thru voting in Harris County and sought to have votes already cast at drive-thru sites tossed out.

The county’s policy allowing drive-thru voting, the plaintiffs argued in one case, “creates an opportunity ripe for fraud,” which would cause the “outcome of the election [to be] in doubt.” And after Election Day, Attorney General Ken Paxton unsuccessfully sued several states in a bid to have the U.S. Supreme Court reject their presidential electors on the concocted basis of vague accusations of fraud in the mail voting process.

Litigation was not the only source of attempted election sabotage arising from Texas. A Texas man was arrested earlier this year for making death threats against election officials in Georgia on the basis of false claims about the 2020 election.

These lawsuits and various attempts to overturn the election were all unsuccessful, but Texas voters will face barriers in the midterms because of these false claims. Legislators claimed that the “November 2020 election demonstrated the lack of transparency and lack of integrity within the election process.” Drawing from this unfounded notion, the legislature almost enacted a bill with a provision actually called “Overturning Election” that would have granted partisan judges expanded powers to throw out the results of an election based on tenuous evidence of fraud.

Texas Senate Bill 1

The legislature went on to enact S.B. 1, which prohibits drive-thru voting and imposes additional restrictions on obtaining and returning an absentee ballot. It also imposes substantial restrictions on voter assistance for voters with disabilities or limited English proficiency and expands the powers of partisan poll watchers on Election Day. In addition to other impacts, the law has already led to high rejection rates of mail ballots. The Big Lie was defeated in court in Texas, but its promoters were still able to use it to justify further restrictions on voting.

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Legislators across the country have relied on baseless claims about 2020 to justify laws that restrict the right to vote and increase the risk of election interference. The examples provided above are just a portion of the new laws that will affect elections in November. The lies about the 2020 election have had such a widespread effect that even legislators who reject these claims themselves, like in Montana, are introducing and passing restrictive voting laws to alleviate the concerns of voters who do believe these lies.

The January 6 insurrection may have been unsuccessful, but clearly, the Big Lie and the ongoing damage it is inflicting on our democracy are not going away.