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Analysis

The Big Lie and the Push to Restrict Voting

Scores of state bills introduced around the country would make it harder to vote, but there are even more that would make it easier.

February 2, 2021

Trump’s Big Lie of wide­spread voter fraud contin­ues to echo beyond the viol­ent attack on the Capitol. In state legis­latures across the coun­try, politi­cians are capit­al­iz­ing on his campaign of disin­form­a­tion to push aggress­ive legis­la­tion to make it harder to vote.

In just the first month of 2021, accord­ing to our new analysis, state lawmakers have already intro­duced 106 bills in 28 states that would restrict voting access. That’s three times as many as this time last year. In Pennsylvania alone, 14 bills have been intro­duced to curb the vote. 

Nation­wide, most would limit or elim­in­ate voting by mail and other improve­ments in voter access made in response to the pandemic. Others, however, would impose stricter voter ID require­ments, limit voter regis­tra­tion policies, and allow more aggress­ive voter roll purges.

Just Monday, Repub­lican legis­lat­ors in Geor­gia intro­duced a bill to effect­ively elim­in­ate absentee ballot­ing, ban drop boxes, and repeal auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion. 

Subtle, this ain’t.

The new surge in voter suppres­sion bills is a back­lash to the historic voter turnout of the 2020 general elec­tion. It flows directly from the bid to cut out the votes of major­ity Black cities during the bid to over­turn the results. Politi­cians who push and support voter suppres­sion aim to rob Black and brown Amer­ic­ans of their say in our demo­cracy. 

As my colleague Eliza Sweren-Becker told Vox, “Rather than going out and trying to persuade voters, we’re seeing legis­lat­ors trying to shrink the elect­or­ate in order to ensure job secur­ity for them­selves.” 

Let’s not mince words: if you support voter suppres­sion, you stand with the Proud Boys and their racist author­it­ari­an­ism. 

It’s worth noting that the news from the states is not all bad. So far in 2021, state lawmakers from 35 states have intro­duced a total of 406 bills that would expand voting access. A signi­fic­ant number of these bills have been intro­duced in states like Missis­sippi, Missouri, and Texas, places with a long, sordid history of voter suppres­sion. 

These state efforts reflect the wide­spread support for demo­cracy reform. At the national level, members of Congress are work­ing to pass the For the People Act, a historic bill that, if enacted, would mark a major step toward strength­en­ing Amer­ica’s elec­tions system. 

Our govern­ment should be work­ing to dismantle barri­ers to voting, not adding them.