Voting Rights Watch

Contributed by Deb Kline.

Four months after the 2020 election which saw the biggest voter turnout in history, 43 states have introduced 250 new laws aimed at restricting voting. With 14 bills before the state legislature, Pennsylvania is second only to Arizona in seeking to limit access, followed by Georgia and New Hampshire. A wide range of constraints include limits to mail-in balloting, early voting, voter ID and Election Day. For those who are pushing such measures, the claim is that the proposals will protect the integrity of elections. We know differently. 

On the other hand, Democrats are pushing federal legislation to expand access across the country that could override state limitations. The For the People act, which passed in the House earlier this month, seeks to protect and expand voting rights, increase transparency and security in the electoral process, and get big money out of politics. Now in the Senate, the Skopos Labs prognosis gives the bill an 83% chance of passage. 

The likelihood of voter restriction bills becoming law depends on the political make-up of each state, and those with a solid red three-way bloc have a better chance of success than those with mixed legislature and governors. Currently, Governor Wolf is likely to veto any bills that pass Pennsylvania’s GOP-heavy legislature, and the legislature is unlikely to be able to override his veto based on its current make-up. In Pennsylvania, an override requires ⅔ of those elected to vote against the veto and the Republicans do not hold that much of a majority. 

While it’s easy to point to THE BIG LIE as the instigator of the growing number of anti-voting access proposals, the truth is that limiting voting has long been part of the conservative strategy. The belief that only certain people should participate in the electoral process and the running of the country goes back to the dawn of the country and has been a battle fought repeatedly. For every gain, there’s been a step or two or three backwards. 

For those of us who believe in equality, the battle goes on and it’s incumbent on us to shine a light on those attempts to roll back voting access. Election lawyer Marc Elias expects to continue being busy as these proposals become law and subsequently end up in court. He urges citizens and media to be alert: 

 “I am begging America and the media to pay attention to this. Right now we are facing an avalanche of voter suppression that we have not seen before, at least not since Jim Crow. In state after state—it’s not just Iowa; it’s not just Georgia; it’s not just Arizona… It’s also Montana. It’s also Missouri. It’s also Florida. It’s also Texas. The list goes on and on. Donald Trump told a Big Lie that led to an assault on democracy in the Capitol on January 6. The assaults we’re seeing going on now in state capitols with the legislatures may be less deadly, and be less violent, but they are every bit as damaging to our democracy.” 

ACTIONS: 

  • Contact your U.S. Senators and demand they support S1: The For The People Act of 2021
  • Contact your Pennsylvania legislators to reject changes to Act 77 that rollback voting access
  • Build power: Use your “Truth Sandwich” create awareness about the need to expand voting access and counter arguments that the proposals will support election integrity

Sources:

https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-february-2021

https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/editorials/pennsylvania-republican-legislators-repeal-voting-by-mail-20210203.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/interactive/2021/voting-restrictions-republicans-states/

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/117/hr1

Know the Opposition: Read what the Conservatives are saying about HR1

1 thought on “Voting Rights Watch”

  1. Great article Deb. The Brennan Center does an excellent job tracking the various state efforts to limit access and Common Cause is running a variety of campaigns – texting, phone banking and social media monitoring to promote the For the People Act if anyone is interested in volunteering.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.