Press Releases

5 Major Ways Republicans Restricted Voting in the Past Year

Jan 12, 2022

Republicans in state legislatures across the country spent 2021 with one goal in mind: restrict the freedom to vote. As much as Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans would like to deny this, the reality is that during 2021 over 440 laws were introduced in 49 states aimed at blocking access to the ballot box, and 34 of those became law in 19 different states. These laws disproportionately harm voters of color, and are largely backed by dark-money groups–the same groups that are also funding efforts to sabotage our elections–something they proudly admit to doing.

Here are five major ways that Republicans’ new anti-voter laws restrict voting, especially for communities of color:

1. Georgia’s anti-voter law restricts the distribution of absentee ballots; limits the availability of ballot drop boxes, which were used more frequently in Democratic-leaning areas of Georgia; bans churches and civic organizations from handing out food and water to voters waiting in line, which have in the past taken up to hours in Black neighborhoods in Georgia; and allows partisan politicians to take control away from trusted local officials and give it to their political allies, who have already removed Black election officials and put in place measures that lead to lower voter turnout and election sabotage. Georgia’s law is an egregious, dangerous power grab that will make it harder for Georgia voters, particularly Black and Brown voters, to have their voices heard in future elections.

2. Texas also passed a dangerous restrictive voting law, which will restrict the freedom to vote for millions of Texas residents. The extremist anti-voter law put in place significant barriers to receiving and filling out an absentee ballot, which over 1 million Texans used to cast a ballot in 2020; imposes significant hurdles to voting for people with disabilities; makes it much easier for absentee ballots to be rejected through new requirements that would have led to over 100,000 voters having their votes nullified in 2020; reduces the number of polling places in Texas, which disproportionately hurts voters in large, minority-majority counties and cities; and gives partisan poll-watchers the authority to intimidate voters, a tactic that has been, is, and will be used to target Black voters and limit their freedom to vote.

3. Florida’s new anti-voting law directly targets voters in communities of color. Self-serving politicians in Florida added numerous new requirements and hurdles to vote by mail, which 40% of Black voters used in 2020, while restricting the use of ballot drop boxes–which is how 1.5 million Floridians made their voices heard in the 2020 general election–and preventing churches and others from handing out refreshments to voters waiting in line. Because of Florida’s new restrictions on voting, the ability of Florida voters to make their voices heard and have the will of the people upheld is at risk.

4. Iowa passed one of 2021’s first dark-money backed laws that limits access to the ballot box, a fact dark-money groups bragged about to their donors. The Iowa law restricts absentee voting, which 60% of Iowa voters used in 2020, institutes improper purges that have already led to the removal of nearly 300,000 voters from the voter rolls, and shortens the number of early voting days, which have now been cut in half since 2017. The Iowa law is a stain on free and fair elections, ensuring that dark-money groups, not the people, have control over the outcomes of Iowa elections.

5. Arizona Republicans did not stop with their sham and failed review to undermine faith in our election. They passed a radical anti-voter law that forces officials to remove an estimated 200,000 voters, who are disproportionately voters of color, from the state’s early voting list and imposed new barriers to voting for mail-in ballots, which over 2.4 million Arizonans, including many indigenous voters, used in 2020.

As much as Republicans would like to pretend that this sustained, extremist, nationwide attack on the freedom to vote does not exist, the fact of the matter is that it does and it must be stopped. The U.S. Senate must do whatever it takes to pass the Freedom to Vote Act to counter these egregious, dangerous dark-money fueled attacks on the ability of Americans to vote in free and fair elections, and ensure that everyone has a voice in our democracy so it works best for the people.