19 states enacted voting restrictions this year
States enacted 34 laws this year that add hurdles to the voting process — more than any other year for at least a decade, according to new data released by Brennan Center for Justice.
Why it matters: The surge in mostly Republican voting bills across 19 states follows former President Trump's unfounded claims of election fraud and the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
- The report found that more than one-third of all restrictive voting laws in the U.S. enacted over the past decade were passed in 2021.
What we're watching: This trend is on track to continue. In four states, at least 13 bills restricting voting access that are being watched by the Brennan Center have been pre-filed for the next legislative session, and 88 bills introduced this year will carry over.
- Meanwhile, legislators in five states have pre-filed bills launching or allowing partisan audits of the 2020 election or future elections. That follows efforts to conduct these reviews in multiple states this year — most notably in Arizona.
- The center highlighted 11 states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin — as having efforts underway that are most concerning to ballot access.
The big picture: State-level elections next year — including for governor, secretary of state and legislatures — could have a major impact on future voting rules.
- State legislatures in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin passed restrictive voting bills that were ultimately vetoed by the states' governors. All three governors are up for re-election next year.
Go deeper: Of the 34 new laws enacted this year, seven would shorten the time voters have to apply for a mail ballot. There was increased use of mail-in ballots during the pandemic.
- Some of the laws allow officials to remove a voter from a list to automatically receive mail-in ballots if they do not cast at least one mail-in vote over four years.
- Others impose stricter voter ID requirements at the polls or stricter signature requirements to cast a mail ballot.
- Three states enacted laws that would reduce the locations or hours that polling places are open.
Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that more than one-third of all restrictive voting laws in the U.S. enacted over the past decade were passed in 2021, not 2020.