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State Voter Suppression Effort Is Highly Partisan

The harshest voter suppression bills enacted this year have been introduced and enacted in starkly partisan fashion by Republican legislatures and governors.

Published: June 11, 2021

Below, we analyze the partisan break­down of the 24 state laws restrict­ing access to voting this year (enacted as of June 3, 2021). foot­note1_330zhm6 1 Those laws include: AL H.B. 285, AL H.B. 538, AR H.B. 1112, AR H.B. 1244, AR H.B. 1715, AR S.B. 643, AZ S.B. 1003, AZ S.B. 1485, FL S.B. 90, GA S.B. 202, IA S.F. 413, ID H.B. 290, IN S.B. 398, KY H.B. 574, KS H.B. 2183, KS H.B. 2332, MT H.B. 176, MT H.B. 530, MT S.B. 169, MT S.B. 196, OK H.B. 2663, NV S.B. 84, WY H.B. 75, UT H.B. 12.  Over­all, we find that these new laws were enacted as part of an over­whelm­ingly partisan Repub­lican push. Repub­lic­ans intro­duced and drove virtu­ally all of the bills that impose new voting restric­tions, and the harshest new laws were passed with almost exclus­ively Repub­lican votes and signed into law by Repub­lican governors. The few bills that received Demo­cratic support are gener­ally less restrict­ive.

Twenty-two of the twenty-four restrict­ive laws were intro­duced and sponsored by Repub­lic­ans or Repub­lican-led commit­tees. The two laws that included Demo­cratic co-spon­sors impose relat­ively modest voting restric­tions. (Those are an Oklahoma law, H.B. 2663, that contains provi­sions that both expand and restrict voting access, and a Nevada law, S.B. 84, that expands permiss­ible precinct sizes.)

Sixteen of the most restrict­ive policies enacted this year, in nine states, were passed on strict party-line or near party-line votes. The only substan­tially restrict­ive bill to receive Demo­cratic votes was enacted in Arkan­sas, where three other severely restrict­ive laws passed on strict party-line votes. In other words, more than 90 percent of the most signi­fic­ant voting restric­tions were enacted along party lines, and all of the states with the most restrict­ive new laws had strict party-line votes. 

There are a hand­ful of new laws contain­ing provi­sions that make it harder to vote that received some Demo­cratic support. foot­note2_bq4n5jg 2 See AL H.B. 538 (shortens the applic­a­tion absentee ballot dead­line by two days); AR H.B. 1244 (estab­lishes that non-photo IDs are no longer valid for voter iden­ti­fic­a­tion); AR S.B. 643 (shortens the window for in-person return of mail ballots and applic­a­tion for mail ballots, and appears to ban use of drop boxes); ID H.B. 290 (creates new signa­ture match­ing proced­ures for absentee ballots); NV S.B. 84 (increases the maximum number of active voters permiss­ible in a voting precinct); UT H.B. 12 (requires cross-refer­en­cing of death certi­fic­ates against voter regis­tra­tion rolls as the basis for purging, without notice to the voters being removed, audit­ing of the source data, and or match­ing criteria). Mixed bills with restrict­ive and expans­ive provi­sions include: IN S.B. 398 (limits the use of drop boxes for absentee voting, but also expands the abil­ity to return an absentee ballot on behalf of another, provides a notice and cure process for absentee ballots, and makes voting easier for indi­vidu­als with disab­il­it­ies); KY H.B. 574 (shortens the absentee ballot applic­a­tion period, restricts who can assist in return­ing absentee ballots, and creates a purge process that appears to viol­ate federal law; also codi­fies the use of drop boxes and a notice and cure process for signa­ture mismatches, creates an online absentee ballot request portal, and estab­lishes no-excuse early voting on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Elec­tion Day); OK H.B. 2663 (shortens the absentee ballot request period, but also adds one addi­tional day in-person absentee voting, and one addi­tional hour of in-person absentee voting on the Saturday before Elec­tion Day). Three of those laws are mixed, mean­ing they contain a number of policies that also expand voter access (in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Indi­ana). And for four of those laws, the restric­tions are much more modest than the other voter suppres­sion laws enacted this year (in Alabama, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah).

On the whole, our analysis shows that Repub­lic­ans have led the most strin­gent and aggress­ive efforts to limit Amer­ic­ans’ access to the ballot box this year, and this push has been nearly unilat­eral, with little to no Demo­cratic support.

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