GOP seeks to roll back mail-in voting in states like Georgia and Pennsylvania that Trump is contesting

Written by on December 30, 2020

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WASHINGTON – As President Donald Trump continues to level baseless claims of voter fraud virtually two months after his Nov. Three election loss, Republican lawmakers in states Trump contested are pushing new voting restrictions for future elections. 

That features proposals to roll again legal guidelines in Georgia and Pennsylvania that allowed all registered voters to vote by mail – strikes that civil rights and voting advocates say might suppress turnout. 

It comes after almost 160 million Individuals – the best share of eligible voters in additional than a century – voted within the November election gained by President-elect Joe Biden, fueled by a surge in mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. Individuals cast 101 million mail-in ballots, accounting for 63% of the general vote, with Biden supporters dominating mail-in voting by a 2 to 1 margin over Trump supporters.

“It is unlucky that these lawmakers – a few of whom truly put this in place and voted for it and labored on increasing it – are actually taking a look at an end result of an election and deciding that they suppose it did not benefited them,” stated Amber McReynolds, CEO of the Nationwide Vote at Dwelling Institute. “That is probably the most harmful strategy to enact insurance policies round voting.”

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Civil rights teams are watching 

Trump unsuccessfully tried to overturn election leads to six battleground states he misplaced, falsely arguing the election was stolen from him regardless of no proof of systematic widespread fraud. Congress is ready to satisfy Jan. 6 to rely Biden’s 306-232 win within the Electoral School.

Because the election, the Supreme Court docket twice refused to take up Trump-endorsed lawsuits that sought to overturn the election outcomes and federal and state courts dismissed Trump’s claims of voter fraud almost 60 occasions. 

In Georgia, which Biden gained by 12,500 votes after two recounts, the state Senate Republican Caucus said its leaders plan to “reform our election legal guidelines” by introducing laws to get rid of no-excuse absentee voting that enables all voters to request a mail poll while not having a cause. When the legislature reconvenes, additionally they plan to suggest a photograph identification requirement and the elimination of mail-ballot drop containers. 

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In Wisconsin, the place a Trump-led recount additionally reaffirmed Biden’s win, Republican lawmakers have mentioned proposals to tighten photograph identification necessities for absentee voting, ban clerks from filling within the addresses of witnesses on absentee poll envelopes and restrict alternatives to drop off ballots.

Michigan Republican lawmakers have floated measures to make sure entry of ballot watchers and to take away ineligible voters from voting rolls, the news outlet Bridge Michigan reported. And in Pennsylvania, a state Home Republican stated he plans to file laws to repeal the state’s new no-excuse legislation that Republicans and Democrats labored to move final yr.

“You are prone to have fewer folks voting when you put extra restrictions on who can vote by mail and who cannot,” stated Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel and senior deputy director for the Legal professionals’ Committee for Civil Rights beneath Legislation, which is monitoring the legislative developments. 

“It is unlucky that you’ve got states considering going backwards when it comes to making voting extra accessible. It is a very cynical method of trying on the world when considered one of your objectives is that you simply need to have much less voter turnout quite than extra.”

Raffensperger pushes adjustments in Georgia

Any adjustments to voting legal guidelines by the Republican-controlled legislatures of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan would face doable vetoes if Democratic governors in these states objected.

However Georgia, which flipped Democratic within the presidential race for the primary time since 1992, is led by each a Republican-controlled legislature and Republican governor, Brian Kemp. That dynamic has made Georgia No. 1 on the radar of voting rights advocates.

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Georgia has had no-excuse absentee voting since 2005. However state Senate Republicans have pledged to supply laws that may restrict mail-voting to solely seniors, the disabled and abroad and army voters. Republicans’ photograph ID requirement would mirror the state’s current requirement for photograph identification to vote in-person.

“I don’t suppose there needs to be completely different requirements for a similar course of,” Republican Senate Majority Chief Mike Dugan stated. 

Each measures have the assist of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, who has drawn the ire of Trump for pushing again on the president’s false voter fraud claims. Raffensperger stated permitting all Georgians to vote by mail throughout the pandemic dramatically elevated the burden on election employees.

“Asking county elections officers to carry no-excuse absentee poll voting along with three weeks of early, in-person voting, and election day voting is an excessive amount of to handle,” Raffensperger stated. “For the sake of our resource-stretched and overwhelmed elections officers, we have to reform our absentee poll system.”

Though the proposals would apply solely to future elections, voting restrictions for the Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoff elections – which has seen greater than 2 million folks vote early – are additionally beneath scrutiny. 

In a win for Democrats, a federal choose in Georgia – Leslie Abrams Gardner, the sister of progressive chief Stacey Abrams – on Monday ordered two counties to reverse a call to take away 4,000 voters from voting rolls. The choose dominated the counties improperly relied on change-of-address information that wasn’t verified.

‘I owe it to my constituents,’ Pennsylvania lawmaker says

In Georgia, almost twice as many Biden voters voted by mail than Trump supporters. The disparity was even better in Pennsylvania, the place almost 2 million of the state’s 2.6 million mail voters – 77% – voted for Biden, in comparison with almost 600,000 – 23% – for Trump. 

The previous yr marked the primary time Pennsylvania allowed all voters to vote-by-mail after lawmakers from each events joined with Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, to move the legislation, referred to as Act 77, in 2019.

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Pennsylvania state Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Hollidaysburg, who voted for the legislation, is now sponsoring laws to repeal it. He stated he is not doing so as a result of Trump misplaced Pennsylvania however as an alternative pointed to emotions of distrust from voters in his closely Republican rural district.

“My constituents have, in no unsure phrases, let me know their emotions in regards to the election,” stated Gregory, whose district backed Trump, 73% to 27%, within the election. He stated they’re satisfied of fraud and irregularities, including that “the factor that in all probability caught my consideration probably the most” is a few folks instructed him they’re by no means going to vote once more in consequence. 

“And so I simply really feel like I owe it to my constituents to say that I voted for Act 77, however what I did not vote for is what we ended up with because the election product in Pennsylvania. And that product is what they’ve quite a lot of distrust in.”

He blamed subsequent actions by Wolf, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court docket. The state’s excessive courtroom upheld Democrat-led measures to allow ballot drop boxes, allow ballots to be received three days after Election Day and to not require matching signatures

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‘It is an accessibility subject’

Trump attacked mail-in voting within the months earlier than the election, calling it rife with fraud and claiming it favors Democrats, although in prior elections, Republicans had a mail-voting benefit over Democrats in lots of states.

Greenbaum famous that Georgia’s Republican leaders didn’t require photograph identification for absentee voting in 2005 when the state handed a legislation requiring photograph identification to vote in-person. Again then, he stated, Republicans typically voted by mail in larger numbers than Democrats.

“This has all flipped,” he stated. “It is not constant  – after this 2020 election wherein voters of shade and Democratic voters had been extra seemingly to make use of vote-by-mail – to now hastily have all these restrictions.”

Extra: Fewer rejected ballots seemed to be a win for voter access; Trump and others disagree

Though Democrats embraced mail-in voting nationally greater than Republicans, McReynolds stated politically purple states corresponding to Utah, Montana, Nebraska – the place ballots had been mailed to both all or most registered voters – voted in better margins for Republicans than the previous.

“It is an accessibility subject,” stated McReynolds, who beforehand oversaw all-mail elections in Denver. “There’s quite a lot of causes to vote absentee, and it is unlucky that lawmakers would need to put obstacles on folks after they’re simply making an attempt to forged their vote.”

Extra: Democrats led early voting after Trump’s attacks on mail-in ballots. Now Trump needs to dominate Election Day

Some states might change when ballots are counted

The push to alter voting legal guidelines amongst Republicans has expanded past states Trump misplaced.

Texas Republican lawmakers, according to the Texas Tribune, have filed almost a dozen payments geared toward mail-in balloting, unlawful voting and the conduct of elections officers. One invoice would forestall officers from sending voters unsolicited functions to request mail-in ballots.

Regardless of the flurry of proposals, McReynolds stated she believes many states will look to increase mail-in voting after report participation in 2020.

Extra: ‘Running out of time’: Efforts to speed up counting mail ballots stall in battleground states

One space has an opportunity for bipartisan settlement in three states: altering when absentee ballots will be counted.

Forward of the election, the legislatures of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan refused to change their laws to permit the processing of absentee ballots to start in weeks earlier than Election Day regardless of the pleas of native election officers.

It resulted in lengthy delays in counting ballots and releasing totals  – a state of affairs that Trump exploited to falsely allege ballots had been “dumped” in a single day out of nowhere.

Extra: Senate leader wants bill by July to allow absentee counting before Election Day

Wisconsin Republican state Sen. Devin LeMahieu, the incoming Senate chief, is pushing laws to permit election officers to rely absentee ballots earlier than Election Day.

He stated he believes the brand new measures would “improve the religion in election outcomes.”

Contributing: Related Press and Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Attain Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

Learn or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/information/politics/elections/2020/12/30/gop-seeks-roll-back-mail-voting-states-trump-lost-2020/3958391001/


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