The battle for control of Congress in this fall’s midterm elections may be decided in state legislatures this spring when voting rights legislation could be in bloom. So far this year, at least 16 bills aimed at making it harder to vote have been introduced in eight states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. The proposals include a mix of photo ID requirements for voters, curbs on voter registration activity, cuts to early voting opportunities and new barriers to absentee voting. Meanwhile, 144 bills to expand voter access have been introduced in 22 states. Many call for automatic, same-day and online voter registration. Others would expand absentee and early voting. And with the legislation, campaign-style rhetoric has heated up.
“Republicans seem to come up with a whole variety of ways in which they want to restrict the number of people who get to the polls. And that’s just not good for democracy,” said former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who now chairs a group seeking to elect more Democrats to office. “It seems to me that Republicans see that they can’t necessarily win the game, so they’re trying to change the rules.’”
… Ever since the Supreme Court gutted the main provisions of the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby v. Holder decision, state proposals to increase access to the ballot box have far outnumbered bills that would restrict access.