voting restrictions
March 8, 2021

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed into law on Monday night a GOP-backed bill that restricts voting access.

The bill was opposed by all Democratic legislators, The Associated Press reports. Under the measure, early voting is cut back from 29 days to 20 days, and most mail-in ballots must be received by Election Day, instead of postmarked by Election Day. The bill also changes voting hours, forcing sites to close at 8 p.m. rather than 9 p.m., and bans election officials from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot request forms.

Republican lawmakers said the law is necessary to prevent voter fraud, but also admitted that Iowa doesn't have a history of election irregularities. The state had record turnout for the November presidential election, with more than 70 percent of Democrats voting early, and there were no reports of voter fraud. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn called the legislation "harmful," while Reynolds said it promotes "more transparency and accountability, giving Iowans even greater confidence to cast their ballot." Catherine Garcia

March 2, 2021

The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments by Arizona Republicans in defense of two voting restrictions they are looking to keep intact. At one point, Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Michael Carvin, a lawyer representing the Arizona GOP, what the party's interest in maintaining the policy of discarding ballots cast at the wrong precinct was. Carvin answered, without hesitation, that removing the rule would prevent Republicans from competing in the state.

"It puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats," he told Barrett. "Politics is a zero sum game. Every extra vote that they get through unlawful interpretations of Section 2 hurts us. It's the difference between winning an election 50-49 and losing an election."

Critics argued Carvin was essentially admitting some Republicans believe "it is okay to manipulate elections to gain partisan advantage."

Per Reuters, part of the reason voting rights activists have targeted the precinct rule is that voters sometimes inadvertently cast their ballots at the wrong polling station because their assigned location is not always the closest one to their homes. However, Reuters reports the high court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, is likely to uphold the restriction, as well as another that makes it a crime to hand over someone else's ballot to election officials during early voting. Tim O'Donnell

March 1, 2021

With a vote of 97-72, the Georgia state House on Monday passed a bill supported by Republicans that would roll back voting access.

House Bill 531 requires a photo ID for absentee voting, limits weekend early voting days, restricts ballot drop box locations, and sets an earlier deadline to request an absentee ballot. The measure now heads to the state Senate for more debate. State Rep. Barry Fleming (R), the bill's chief sponsor, said it is "designed to begin to bring back the confidence of our voters back into our election system."

Democrats and civil rights organizations disagree, arguing that it would make it much harder for people to vote, especially voters of color. State Rep. Renitta Shannon (D) said it is "pathetically obvious" that the bill is in response to Georgia voters turning out in record numbers for November's presidential election, making the state blue for the first time in decades. Voters also showed up in January for the Senate runoffs, when Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock defeated the Republican incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

This gave Republicans the message "that they were in a political death spiral," Shannon said. "And now they are doing anything they can to silence the voices of Black and brown voters specifically, because they largely powered these wins."

Demonstrators marched outside the Capitol on Monday to protest the bill, which the Rev. James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP, called one of the "most egregious, dangerous, and most expensive voter suppression acts in this entire nation, rolling back years of hardball progress and renewing our own reputation for discrimination." Catherine Garcia

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