After an extraordinary wave of reforms approved in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, state legislatures will begin debating revisions to voting rights and election administration rules in the following days.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, at least 74 such measures have been pre-filed in 11 states. Thirteen of them, filed in four states, would limit access to the ballot box.
That’s on top of scores of laws filed last year that would restrict or increase voting rights, or modify the way elections are handled, and which will be carried over into the legislative sessions starting this week, including 88 bills across nine states that the Brennan Center deemed “restrictive.”
Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania legislators will debate bills that would allow elections officials to remove inactive voters from voter rolls. Legislators in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are considering making it illegal for election officials to mail out unsolicited absentee ballots. In addition, legislators in more than a dozen states will propose new or increased voter identification requirements.
Democratic legislators are pushing to increase voting rights as part of a national effort to make voting rights a central feature of the party’s platform ahead of the November midterm elections.
“There is a concerted attempt for us to go on attack as well as defense.” “This is a watershed moment in our history,” New York state Senator Zellnor Myrie (D), who chairs the state Senate Elections Committee, stated. “We have only been successful when we have gone on attack, when we have brought the fight to the voters.”
Myrie plans to draft a “Unprecedented New York version” of the Voting Rights Act, which would give the state attorney general new authority over election operations and establish a presumption of voting rights. He also plans to submit legislation to make absentee ballot drop boxes permanent, a procedure that New York temporarily implemented during the coronavirus outbreak.