Arizona lawmakers passed three restrictive election laws that year, footnote17_hqr6z7j 17 AZ H.B. 1003, AZ S.B. 1485, AZ S.B. 1819. And they have introduced at least one bill that would restrict access to votes through stricter identification requirements. footnote18_p64mn7n 18 AZ S.C.R. 1005. In addition, state lawmakers introduced three bills in 2021 that would have directly empowered party officials to reject or annul election results. footnote19_yyirnee 19 AZ H.B. 2720, AZ H.B. 2800, AZ H.B.
2826. The state also conducted an infamous partisan election review this year when it hired a third party to review the results of the 2020 Maricopa County election. Although there is no evidence of fraud, the review has fueled false rhetoric about voter fraud and led officials to push for restrictive electoral legislation. These transfer laws were introduced during the 2021 legislature, but did not result in a definitive solution this year. Twenty-five states that have legislative periods in 2022 allow transfer bills. Of the nine states that have restrictive broadcasting laws, two passed restrictive election laws this year (KS, NY); three have passed restrictive electoral laws, which have been vetoed by the Governor (MI, PA, WI); and three have conducted partisan reviews of the 2020 elections or are underway (MI, PA, WI). This expansive legislation does not outweigh the effects of restrictive laws. Expansive and restrictive laws are mostly passed in different states — 11 states enacted only restrictive laws in 2021, while 17 states enacted only expansive laws. As a result, there is a strong and growing gap in the country, where access to the right to vote increasingly depends on the state in which a voter lives. This gap will only widen next year if Congress does not act. Between January 1 and December 7, at least 19 states passed 34 restrictive laws.
footnote29_cg03rw4 29 AL H.B. 285, AL H.B. 538, AR H.B. 1112, AR H.B. 1244, AR H.B. 1715, AR S.B. 643, AZ S.B. 1003, AZ S.B. 1485, AZ S.B.
1819, FL S.B. 90, GA S.B. 202, IA S.F. 413, IA S.F. 568, ID H.B. 290, IN S.B. 398, KS H.B. 2183, KS H.B. 2332, KY H.B. 574, H.B. 167, MT H.B. 176, MT H.B.
530, MT S.B. 169, MT S.B. 196, MT S.B. 319, NH H.B. 523, NH S.B. 31, NV S.B. 84, NY S.B. 264, OK H.B. 2663, TX H.B.
3920, TX S.B. 1111, TX S.B. 1, UT H.B. 12, WY H.B. 75. Regulations are considered restrictive if they make it harder for Americans to register, stay on the lists and/or vote, than existing state laws. Restrictive laws make it harder for voters to vote by mail that count, make it harder to vote in person by reducing the hours and locations of polling stations, increase voter cleaning or the risk of erroneous voter cleaning, and criminalize the normal and lawful behavior of election officials and others involved in elections. There are solutions to this alarming and unprecedented attack on our democracy.
Congress has the power to take bold action now to protect American voters from the restrictions enacted this year and the imminent threats to voters and elections that could be imposed in 2022 and beyond. Two bills that would fend off many of the attacks on free and fair elections have passed the House of Representatives, pending a vote in the Senate. The Voting Freedom Act is a broad set of electoral reforms, redistricting, election security, and campaign finance that would ensure minimum national standards of access to elections for every American. It would also prevent supporters from sabotaging election results. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would prevent discriminatory voting practices and rules from being implemented in states and localities where discrimination is persistent and pervasive, and protect access to voting for all eligible voters, regardless of race, color, or minority language status. And it would restore voters` ability to challenge discriminatory laws nationwide. Texas lawmakers also introduced legislation this year that would have provided for the annulment of election results and explicitly required third-party forensic checks of election results. footnote24_au8sl21 24 TX S.B. 7, TX H.B. 17. Even without approving the legislation, the Secretary of State`s Office launched an unnecessary review of the 2020 election in four Texas counties. Although street checks have already taken place, documents released by the Office of the Secretary of State would allow for manual counting of votes in these districts, as well as a review of other voter registers and voter lists.
State laws restricting access to elections are not the same. Four of the thirty-four statutes are mixed, meaning that they contain both a voter-friendly policy and a policy that makes voting more difficult (IN S.B. 398, KY H.B. 574, LA H.B. 167, OK H.B. 2663). Other laws have a relatively narrow scope (e.g. NV S.B.
84, UT H.B. 12). In contrast, Florida, Georgia, Iowa and Texas enacted omnibus laws, each containing several new restrictive provisions. footnote30_ac7k34d 30 GA S.B. 202, FL S.B. 90, IA S.F. 413, TX S.B. 1.
A troubling legislative trend from 2021 is the initiation of illegitimate partisan scrutiny of election results in a number of key states. In particular, partisan legislators have allowed other partisan actors who are not part of the election administration process to access and review ballots and other 2020 election documents. As the Brennan Center has documented elsewhere, these controls were generally designed to set the stage for future efforts to suppress votes and undermine election results. In 2021, questionable and politically motivated reviews of the results of the 2020 elections have taken place or are underway in six states (AZ, GA, MI, PA, TX and WI). Georgia will host high-profile elections for the secretary of state and governor in 2022. One candidate for secretary of state repeated false allegations of fraud and voted not to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, while two gubernatorial candidates explicitly stated that they would not have certified the results of the 2020 election if they had been in office at that time. States like Arizona and Georgia target people of color with restrictive election laws. The Pennsylvania legislature passed a wide-ranging restrictive bill this year, which was vetoed by the governor. footnote22_t9w5yh6 22 PA H.B. 1300. Thirty restrictive bills will be carried over to the 2022 legislature.
The state also has a gubernatorial run next year. Four of the restrictive broadcasting laws are proposed constitutional amendments that would allow state legislatures to obtain restrictive election laws without review by the governor. footnote23_lffzz3o 23 PA H.J.R. 1717 (Eliminates unexcused absentee voting; eliminates the possibility of legislating alternative voting methods), R.J.P. 1596 (Requires voter identification for personal voting, proof of voter identity and signature for absentee voting, requires matching of signatures for absentee voting), L.PA R.J.S. 735 (Requires voter identification for personal voting, proof of voter identity for mail-in voting), PA S.J.R. 884 (Eliminates unexcused mail-in voting; eliminates the possibility of legislating alternative voting methods; extends the deadline for returning mail-in voting from 8 p.m. on election day to the Friday before election day; requires all mail-in ballots to be verified by signature; eliminates the permanent mail-in voting list). (These proposals are expected to be approved by a majority of state legislatures in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023, and then approved by majority voters.) .