And in five states, six pre-filed bills would allow “audits” or reviews of election results, as former President Donald Trump and his allies continue to baselessly attribute his 2020 loss to election fraud.
In addition, some 88 restrictive bills that were introduced but failed to become law in nine states this year are expected to carry over into legislative sessions set to begin early next year, the analysis found.
Spate of restrictions in 2021
The flurry of legislative efforts to clamp down on ballot access hit new highs this year.
In all, the center found that lawmakers in 19 states had passed 34 restrictive election bills as of December 7 — as largely Republican-led legislatures raced to reshape the election systems in their states.
The laws passed in 2021 account for more than a third of all restrictive voting laws enacted since Brennan began tracking voting legislation a decade ago, researchers said.
Some of the laws passed this year — along with proposals under consideration during next year’s legislative sessions — take aim at mail voting and other alternative ways to cast ballots that election officials used in 2020 during the pandemic to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Conservative critics argue that voting by mail left elections vulnerable to fraud, although federal, state and local elections officials have insisted there’s no evidence of widespread wrongdoing that would have affected the outcome of last year’s election.
Jason Snead, who runs the conservative Honest Elections Project, said revising voting procedures is “going to be one of the top 10 issues” next year in state legislatures.
In some cases, he said, lawmakers need to revisit procedures that were changed on an emergency basis during the height of the pandemic. In 2020, “the pendulum was swung much more heavily in favor of personal safety from the virus than election integrity,” Snead said. “But does that make sense on an ongoing basis? Does that make sense now? Does that make sense in an election 10 years from now?”
In Georgia, a traditionally red state that President Joe Biden flipped last year, Republican lawmakers earlier this year enacted a sweeping new law that established ID requirements to vote by mail and limited ballot drop boxes to one per 100,000 registered voters. As a result, populous Fulton County — which takes in much of Atlanta — went from 38 drop boxes during the 2020 election to eight, under the new law.
“Moving forward, we can return to a pre-pandemic normal of voting in person,” Miller said in a recent news release, announcing his bill. “Removing drop boxes will help rebuild the trust that has been lost. Many see them as the weak link when it comes to securing our elections against fraud.”
Georgia will host some of the marquee political battles of the midterms with the governor’s office, the secretary of state’s post and a US Senate seat all in contention in 2022.
In neighboring Florida, DeSantis — considered a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 — is pushing a slate of what he called “election integrity reforms” that he says will make “Florida the number one state for elections.”