As President Trump continues to make false claims about election fraud, the battle over the ballot box is heating up in Washington and in statehouses across the country.
Democrats and Republicans are at odds over how and when you should be able to vote.
This week, Democrats in the House of Representatives passed a far-reaching voting reform bill along party lines. H.R. 1, the “For the People Act of 2021," would expand voter access to the ballot box. It would limit the purging of voter rolls; work to restore former felons’ voting rights; require states institute automatic and same day voter registration; and increase early and mail-in voting.
The White House called this “landmark legislation” that is “urgently needed” to “safeguard the integrity of our elections.” But Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has described the bill as a democratic effort to “steamroll states and localities to try and prevent themselves from losing even more seats next time.” The measure is headed for trouble in the Senate, where it requires a 60-vote majority to be passed into law.
At the same time, Republican-controlled state legislatures are advancing state-level measures to restrict voting access.
- In Arizona, one bill would abolish the state’s permanent early voting list; another would prevent mail-in voters from mailing their ballots back while also limiting who can deliver absentee ballots, requiring ballots be notarized, and increasing ID requirements.
- In Michigan, a bill is being considered that would tighten voting requirements, mandating proof of citizenship in a bid to target noncitizens.
- In Texas, 11 bills have been introduced that propose tightening restrictions on ballot signatures, absentee voting, and photo ID.
- And in the North Dakota Senate, an anti-transparency bill was passed that prohibits election officials from communicating the number of votes cast for candidates in a presidential election. The total number would only be counted following the Electoral Colleges’ convening.
Against this backdrop, the Supreme Court on Tuesday heard arguments in a case that could roll back a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — the watershed bill that prevents racial discrimination in voting.
The Arizona case goes to the heart of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which bars voting "practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color" or the language a person speaks.
The Court already dismantled another provision in the voting rights act – Section 5, which required that areas with a history of race-based voting discrimination get approval from the federal government before changing their voting laws. If the court upholds the Arizona laws that could effectively gut what remains of the 1965 anti-discrimination legislation passed in the wake of the selma protests.
A decision is expected by summer.