Republicans' desire to increase voting integrity has resulted in new laws implemented around the country this year, The Hill reported Tuesday.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University said legislatures in 18 states have passed 30 bills that tighten voter access, with more than 400 bills with similar provisions having been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.
At least 25 states enacted 54 laws with provisions to expand voting access, the Brennan Center said.
Every new voting law has been passed in states where Republicans own total control of the legislature, The Hill said, and all but two of the states also are run by GOP governors. The exceptions are Kentucky and Louisiana.
Many of the reforms concern improving the processes for mail-in ballots and early voting. Eight states have expanded early voting, The Hill said, and another eight states have made registering to vote easier.
In Arizona, the state Senate and House approved three different bills this year aimed at removing inactive voters from a permanent absentee ballot list, and requiring valid signatures for mail-in ballots.
"[Voting laws are] definitely percolating as a more mainstream issue, but that’s because there were wholesale changes made without going through the legislative process, using COVID as the rationale for why. That has awakened the public," GOP Arizona State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who’s running to oversee elections as secretary of state, told The Hill.
"The Democrats have misused, exploited, and politicized COVID to implement changes in elections that could never get passed otherwise. They kind of needed a vessel, and they used COVID as a vessel to weaken our election system."
Democrats and voting rights advocates have accused Republicans of targeting minority voters and making it more difficult to vote.
"What is clear is that there is a wave of state laws that make it harder for Americans to vote, and in a really unprecedented manner. We haven’t seen the volume of these bills at all in a year," said Eliza Sweren-Becker, counsel to the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice.
"This is reflecting a real concerted effort in states across the country to make it harder for Americans to vote, to carve Americans out of the electorate rather than politicians trying to win over those voters."
Democrats and voting rights advocates also claim Republicans are seeking changes because President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the 2020 elections.
"Republican elected officials do not like the results of 2020 and now they’re trying to change the rules of future elections," Democrat Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold told The Hill.
"We’re doing things based on information and making substantive legislative changes that the public has confidence in and are meaningful," she said.
Voting by mail soared to new heights in 2020, when 46% of voters used that option.
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