By Julia Harte
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican lawmakers in several politically important states approved a wave of new voting requirements and limits this year, saying the measures are necessary to curb voter fraud, despite scant evidence of it in the United States.
Supporters of the measures cite former Republican President Donald Trump’s unfounded claim that fraud underlies his decisive presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden in November. Democrats and voting rights advocates have sued state officials over the new laws, denouncing the efforts as partisan power takeovers that will disproportionately disproportionate voters of color.
A committee of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a Republican-backed voting restriction package Tuesday that would require election officials to verify voters’ signatures with ballot sorting machines, limit the use of the ballot boxes and remove the list. state’s permanent vote-by-mail ballot, mandating Voters must request mail-in ballots before each election.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk, but Republican lawmakers are expected to reintroduce the measure as a proposed constitutional amendment that would be subject to a public referendum. A state Senate committee approved another proposed constitutional amendment Tuesday that would expand voter identification requirements.
Texas Democratic lawmakers walked out of a legislative session on May 30, denying Republicans the quorum necessary to pass sweeping new voting restrictions that would limit early voting hours, added new identification requirements for absentee voting, and banned absentee voting. urns.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a staunch supporter of the measure, promised to add the bill to a special legislative session later this year. The Republican majority legislature is expected to pass the bill when it comes up in special session, though some Republican lawmakers have said the bill mistakenly shortened early voting hours on Sunday and needed a review.
Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law May 11 to prevent counties from automatically sending early ballots to Arizonans if they don’t use them often enough. The legislation will remove voters from the state’s “Early Voting List” if they do not send an early voting ballot at least once every two election cycles.
Republican lawmakers in most other states have put voting restrictions on broad bills to pass at once, but are taking a gradual approach in Arizona. Other obstacles to voting that are still pending in the state legislature include bills that would ban automatic voter registration and on Election Day.
A law signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on May 6 imposed additional requirements for requesting and submitting absentee ballots. Absentee voters must present new proof of identity when requesting their ballots and reapply for absentee ballots at each new general election cycle, rather than every other cycle.
The law also limited the use of absent mailboxes to the early voting period, gave partisan election observers more power to raise objections, and required people offering assistance to stay at least 150 feet (45 m) away from the venues. voting, an increase over the previous one. 100 ft (30 m) radius.
One of the most controversial new voting measures passed in Georgia, where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law on March 25 that tightened the identification requirements of the absentee ballot, restricted the use of the ballot boxes and allowed a controlled state agency by the Republicans took over local voting operations. .
Critics said the legislation is aimed at depriving black voters, which helped propel Biden to the presidency and hand Democrats two victories in the US Senate in Georgia in January that gave them control of the chamber. Major American corporations also condemned the Georgia law, and Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game out of state in protest.
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed legislation on March 9 that shortened the state’s early voting period and polling place hours on Election Day, imposed stricter deadlines for filing absentee ballots, and converted It is a felony for election officials to disobey the guidance of the secretary of state, who is currently a Republican.