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Voting Rights

Demonstrators at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on March 3, 2021 protest a voter suppression bill, which was later passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. (Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Report Details ‘Extremist’ GOP Plot to Nationalize Voter Suppression

"These anti-voter bills telegraph what some Republicans in Congress would like to do: make it harder for certain Americans to vote," Common Cause says in the new report.

Brett Wilkins

The advocacy group Common Cause warned Thursday in a new report that U.S. congressional Republicans are introducing dozens of bills that, if the GOP regains control of Congress after the midterm elections, pose a "serious threat to the freedom to vote for millions of Americans."

"Congressional Republicans have introduced more than 30 anti-voter bills that have largely gone unnoticed."

The report, entitled Extremists' Plot to Nationalize Voter Suppression: 2023 and Beyond, argues that former President Donald Trump's so-called Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen "lives on in a wave of voter suppression legislation nationwide."

"Although significant attention has focused on the more than 400 anti-voter bills that have been introduced (several dozen of which have become law) in state legislatures since the insurrection, some federal bills making it harder to vote also portend a dangerous trend," the report states, noting that since the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, "congressional Republicans have introduced more than 30 anti-voter bills that have largely gone unnoticed."

"These anti-voter bills telegraph what some Republicans in Congress would like to do: make it harder for certain Americans to vote," the authors assert. "While none of these federal anti-voter bills will become law this year, if control of Congress switches after this November's election, a Congress with different leadership may try to advance some of these proposals and do at the federal level what self-interested, power-hungry legislators in certain states are trying to do: make it harder to vote, and in ways that are disproportionately targeted at Black and Brown voters."

According to the report, "some of the most egregious bills introduced by congressional Republicans so far include legislation" that would:

  • Eliminate the National Voter Registration Act (aka the "motor-voter" law);
  • Prohibit states from counting a ballot cast in a federal election if it is received by the state after the date of the election, regardless if the ballot was completed and mailed by Election Day;
  • Prohibit states from using automatic voter registration systems;
  • Prohibit states from providing absentee ballots to many voters; 
  • Restrict the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots;
  • Block many Americans from no-excuse absentee voting;
  • Prevent most individuals from voting at a polling place during an early voting period;
  • Significantly curtail the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) ability to provide investments to states to help run safe and secure elections; and
  • Relitigate the 2020 presidential election by establishing a commission to investigate the results of an election that Trump's own appointees at the Department of Homeland Security declared was the "most secure in American history."

"Instead of silencing voters on a state-by-state basis, members of Congress introducing these anti-voter bills may try to disenfranchise certain voters in one fell swoop," Sylvia Albert, Common Cause's director of voting and elections and one of the report's authors, said in a statement.

"The bills are an attempt to harness the Big Lie in order to pass legislation that allows politicians to choose who can vote and who can't vote in our elections," she continued. "The January 6th committee's vital work exposed the conspiracy built on lies by Trump and his inner circle to undermine Americans' faith in our elections and to provoke an armed, racist mob to storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election. We must prevent those lies from being weaponized in Congress in order to attack our democracy from within."

The report's other author, Common Cause senior legislative affairs director Aaron Scherb, said that "these anti-voter bills have largely flown under the radar for the last two years, but if Republicans regain control of Congress that will all change and the freedom to vote will be under attack on Capitol Hill."

"But over that same time period," he noted, "sweeping pro-voter protections like the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act and For the People Act have been passed in the U.S. House repeatedly and garnered majority support in the Senate only to be blocked by Republican filibusters."

"The fight will go on," Scherb added, "and if it means reforming the filibuster to protect every Americans' freedom to vote, then so be it."

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