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Restrictive Voting Laws Are Highly Partisan

The harshest voting restrictions passed in 2021 were pushed in a starkly partisan fashion by Republican state legislators.

Published: April 5, 2022

Last summer, the Bren­nan Center released an analysis show­ing that restrict­ive voting laws passed in the first half of 2021 were the work of Repub­lican state legis­lat­ors. As we explained at the time, 16 of the 24 laws that had passed received no support from Demo­cratic legis­lat­ors.

As we show below, this did not change over the second half of 2021. By the end of the year, state legis­latures had passed 34 restrict­ive voting laws. Of these, half did not receive a single vote from any Demo­cratic legis­lator, and four more received only one Demo­cratic vote. foot­note1_4aeljla 1 In addi­tion, there is no record of Demo­cratic votes for NH S.B. 31, but it was adop­ted by voice vote in both cham­bers of the New Hamp­shire Legis­lature, so we are unable to defin­it­ively determ­ine whether it received a Demo­cratic vote. NH H.B. 523 was also adop­ted by voice vote in the State Senate. It received a roll call vote in the House, where one Demo­crat voted yes. Because we are unable to determ­ine what Demo­cratic support it received, if any, in the Senate, we do not include it in the tally of bills that received just one vote from a Demo­cratic legis­lator. Simil­arly, these laws were over­whelm­ingly sponsored by Repub­lican legis­lat­ors. In fact, all but 2 of the 34 laws were primar­ily sponsored by Repub­lic­ans or Repub­lican commit­tees.

Moreover, the bills that received signi­fic­ant Demo­cratic support were less restrict­ive. The 34 restrict­ive laws enacted in 2021 vary signi­fic­antly in terms of sever­ity and scope. All 11 restrict­ive bills that received more than one Demo­cratic vote were either “mixed” bills that contain both restrict­ive and expans­ive provi­sions (IN S.B. 398, KY H.B. 574, LA H.B. 167, OK H.B. 2663) or imposed relat­ively minor restric­tions (AL H.B. 538, AR H.B. 1244, ID H.B. 290, NV S.B. 84, NY S.B. 264, TX H.B. 3920, UT H.B. 12), such as moving up the dead­line for voters to submit mail ballot applic­a­tions (NY S.B. 264).

On the other hand, the four “omni­bus” restrict­ive voting laws passed in 2021, which imposed a wide range of restric­tions on voting (FL S.B. 90, GA S.B. 202, IA S.F. 413, TX S.B. 1), did not receive a single vote from a Demo­cratic legis­lator.

In the table below, we show the partisan break­down of the vote for final passage in each legis­lat­ive cham­ber for every restrict­ive voting bill that passed in 2021:

End Notes