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Voters cast ballots at a polling location in Arlington, Va. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Absentee drop boxes can't be used in Wisconsin, judge rules

Volunteers assist a voter at an early voting ballot drop-off location in Milwaukee, Wis. April 2, 2020. Photo: Thomas Werner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A judge in Wisconsin ruled on Thursday that absentee ballot drop boxes cannot be used in the state.

State of play: Absentee ballots can be returned via mail or in person, but under state law, drop boxes are not allowed, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren said.

Defense taking steps to mitigate civilian harm after botched airstrikes

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on Sept. 1, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive Thursday to improve the U.S. military's approach to civilian harm mitigation and response, calling it a "strategic and a moral imperative."

Why it matters: The Pentagon has faced criticism for years for amassing civilian casualties in its missions, especially in the Middle East. New York Times investigations have found systemic failures in efforts to prevent civilian deaths, as well as a cover-up of a 2019 airstrike that killed dozens of women and children in Syria.

3 hours ago - World

Mapped: The world's most and least corrupt countries

Expand chart
Data: Transparency International; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

The most corrupt governments in the world are in South Sudan, Syria and Somalia, according to Transparency International's annual index, while the "cleanest" are in Denmark, Finland and New Zealand.

  • Breaking it down: The U.S. is 27th, China 66th, India 85th, Brazil 96th and Russia 136th. Scroll over the map to see each country's ranking.