National: As America embraces early voting, GOP hurries to restrict it | Anthony Izaguirre/Associated Press
Nearly seven of every 10 voters cast their ballots before Election Day in 2020. Republicans are moving to make it harder for that to happen again, potentially affecting the voting preferences of millions of Americans. The GOP’s campaign to place new restrictions on mail-in and early voting in certain states will force voters to contend with new rules on what have quickly become popular and proven methods of casting ballots. Though it is difficult to forecast how exactly the changes will affect voter turnout in the years ahead, critics argue that the proposals target a voting method that has had growing appeal for both Democrats and Republicans, and will add additional and needless bureaucratic hurdles to casting ballots before Election Day. In just Georgia and Iowa, states where sweeping new voting restrictions already have been signed into law, more than 5 million voters used absentee or early in-person voting last fall. Restrictive early voting bills also are advancing in other politically important states where Republicans are in control, including Arizona, Florida and Texas. Altogether, nearly 27 million voters in those five states cast ballots in advance of the 2020 presidential election. “They’re trying to make it a hassle to vote,” said Dixie Davis, a 33-year-old seamstress in Fort Worth, Texas, who voted early in the last election. “I feel like voting should be convenient — it’s like the most basic service a government should provide in a democratic society.” The explosion of both early and mail voting in the 2020 election came after state officials across the country relaxed rules around who could cast ballots before Election Day in a one-time effort to avoid coronavirus spread at crowded polling places. Officials and experts have said the result was one of the smoothest elections in recent memory, without any of the widespread fraud alleged by former President Donald Trump and his allies.