Reviews | A five-alarm emergency for voting rights and democracy

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“Voter suppression” is a controversial and highly politicized term. But for the list of bills Republicans are pushing across the country, this is the only correct one.

If you don’t pay attention to these election bills, you should. They could determine the next President of the United States.

They are introducing these bills in virtually every state, but three, Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin, are particularly concerning. These swing states, along with Pennsylvania and Michigan, helped decide the last presidential election. Everyone has gone from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020.

But now, in those states and elsewhere, Republicans want to make it harder to vote by mail, get rid of same-day voter registration and ballot drop-off boxes, limit early voting, reduce the number of polling booths and much more.

If you don’t pay attention to these election bills, you should. They could determine the next President of the United States.

Joe Biden won Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin by a combined 45,000 votes. He didn’t win because of widespread voter fraud or Liberal conspiracy. He won because more people voted for him.

The GOP’s response has not been to win more votes. It is to ensure that fewer people have the right to vote.

The right to vote should be a bipartisan issue. Instead, we see Republicans throwing every voter suppression idea they have on the wall of their Capitol buildings hoping something sticks. A big part of that is Trump’s iron grip on the Republican Party.

To appease Trump, Republicans have spent the past two years trying to overturn the last presidential election. They missed. But if the election bills they propose are signed into law, they may not have to cancel the next one.

Texas Senate Bill 1 is a good example of the kind of restrictive bills Republicans are pursuing in at least 40 states, including these three swing states.

The new Texas law prohibits election officials from mailing absentee ballots to voters unless they request them. It requires that a voter identification number be included with mail-in ballots. And it prohibits, among other things, polling stations open 24 hours a day.

In the first election since the law was implemented, more than 27,000 mail-in ballots were flagged for rejection in Texas. Most of the rejections were due to a technicality: forgetting to include that newly required voter identification number.

In the end, 23,000 ballots were rejected, or about 13% of all mail-in ballots. In Democrat-dominated Harris County around Houston, that figure rose to 19%, or nearly one in five polls.

By comparison, less than 1% of absentee ballots in Texas were rejected in the 2020 general election. When ballot rejections increase 10 to 20 times, it’s not a free and fair election.

If we see rejection numbers like Texas’s in general elections, especially in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin, we’re talking about a theft of control from the House, Senate, and the Presidency. Not stolen from the Democrats, but from the voters.

According to the Voting Rights Lab, which tracks state-level election legislation, 565 election bills that restrict voter access or election administration have been introduced so far this session. Of those 565 bills, 129 are courtesy of Republicans in Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin.

Elections should be about who wins the most votes. For Republicans, it’s about putting up as many roadblocks to voting as possible and whittling the electorate until they produce the outcome they want.

The good news for voters and for supporters of free and fair elections is that the vast majority of these bills have not made their way out of their state legislatures. There is still time to stop them.

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