Voting regulations have become the latest political hot potato for many states. Legislators in 42 states are considering a bevy of measures to revamp their election laws in the aftermath of allegations by former President Donald Trump and his supporters that last November’s presidential election was “stolen.”
Many of the measures focus on practices that encourage early voting, including in-person, mail-in and absentee ballots, a major part of Democrats’ efforts to increase voter participation rates.
In Iowa, Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law slashing the early-voting period from 29 to 18 days. Counties in the state are also now barred from mailing absentee ballot applications to residents unless voters request them, and there are new, tighter regulations on methods for returning them.
In Georgia, March 8 was “crossover day,” or the day that bills must pass either the state Senate or House in order to remain on the legislative agenda for the current year. House Bill 531, which proposes a slew of changes to state election law including requiring a photo ID for absentee voting and time limits for voters to request absentee ballots.
The measure also proposes a sharp cut to the number of drop boxes for absentee ballots per county and would require counties to provide round-the-clock security monitoring for them.
The house ratified the bill by a vote of 97-72, along party lines, keeping it on the legislature’s front-burner.
Iowa Gov. Reynolds praised the measures. In a statement after signing the bill, she said “all of these additional steps promote more transparency and accountability, giving Iowans even greater confidence to cast their ballot.”
Voting rights activists, however, called the measures a “brazen” attempt to prevent minority voters from exercising their rights.
“What is unique about this year is the volume of bills we are seeing to restrict voting access and the brazenness of the efforts to go after methods of voting that are historically uncontroversial and popular with voters and clearly make it harder for people to cast ballots,” Eliza Sweren-Becker, a lawyer in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, told the Associated Press.