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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There are at least 165 proposals under consideration in 33 states so far this year to restrict future voting access by limiting mail-in ballots, implementing new voter ID requirements and slashing registration options.

Driving the news: As former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial begins over his role in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection that sought to overturn President Biden's victory — fueled by baseless allegations of voter fraud — lawmakers in states with GOP majorities are pushing new ballot obstacles based on similar baseless allegations.

Why it matters: The 2020 election shattered minority turnout expectations, with Black and Asian-American voters in Georgia, and Latino and Navajo voters in Arizona, flipping traditionally red states to blue.

  • Advocates hoped that one silver lining of COVID-19 would be a permanent expansion of absentee and early voting options and other steps to make voting safer and more accessible to all voters.
  • Democrats in state legislatures are proposing bills to expand access to voting.
  • At the same time, a majority of states are seeing a proliferation of efforts to make voting more difficult. Trump's false claims of election fraud are fueling some of the arguments for these proposed obstacles.

The details: Three states at the tip of the spear are Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Georgia — states critical to Trump's loss in November and Democrats' takeover of the U.S. Senate last month. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, Arizona leads the pack with 19 proposals, followed by Pennsylvania with 14 and Georgia with 11.

  • A South Carolina proposal would impose a signature matching requirement for absentee ballots.
  • A New Hampshire bill would allow anyone to observe polls “without obstruction.”
  • A Texas plan would strip voter registration authority from county clerks and require the Department of Public Safety to verify the citizenship of voters.

What they're saying: Arizona Republican state Rep. Kevin Payne is seeking to abolish the state's so-called permanent early voting list and require mail ballots to be notarized. “People don’t feel confident about the signature verification," he said.

  • Arizona state Rep. Athena Salman, a Democrat, said Republicans are "trying to stop eligible voters from voting because they don’t like the decisions voters are making."
  • One state official in Georgia, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said many of the bills are "grandstanding with the knowledge that cooler heads will prevail.”
  • The ACLU is expanding resources to its southern affiliates in anticipating of fights over voting rights. Executive director Anthony D. Romero told Axios the restrictions largely represent an effort "to exclude minority and people of color voters from the polls."

Go deeper

First look: ACLU to push reparations bill, Southern expansion

Panelists speak at the 2018 ACLU National Conference at the Washington Convention Center in June 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union will announce Tuesday it's embarking on an aggressive racial justice agenda that includes support for a reparations bill, expanding resources into southern states, and pushing for rural post offices to adopt basic banking services.

Why it matters: The 101-year-old ACLU is shifting its emphasis from defending free speech to forcefully tackling systemic racism amid a racial awakening in the U.S. and could provide a jolt to traditionally underfunded minority-led organizations.

Democrats weigh axing election deniers from bills

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas). Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

Some House Democrats are seizing new ground in their protest against Republicans who challenged the 2020 election results, refusing to add them as sponsors of their bills and discussing removing their affiliation with past legislation now being refiled, Axios reports.

Why it matters: This legislative "deplatforming" undercuts the bipartisanship President Biden seeks for the next four years. It also could harm Democratic bills needing Republican support.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
30 mins ago - Energy & Environment

IEA analysis charts "narrow" pathway to Paris climate goal

Photovoltaic solar panels at the power plant in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, southeastern France. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

The pathway for transforming global energy systems to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is "narrow but still achievable" and demands unprecedented acceleration away from fossil fuels, an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday concludes.

Why it matters: It provides detailed analysis and estimates of what's needed for a good shot at limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the Paris Agreement benchmark for avoiding some of the most damaging effects of climate change.

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