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Republicans Keep Trying To Limit Voting Rights But So Far This Cycle They Are Mostly Losing

And The Crucial 2023 Elections In Virginia



The things that Republicans are trying to take away from Americans is a long story but the one I want to note today is voting rights— and reassure you that it isn’t working in most states… although it has in 4 that are very important for 2024: Georgia, Arizona, Iowa and Florida. It’s partially worked in Texas as well. But voting right have expanded in 29 states, including 5 that are crucial for 2024: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Minnesota and Virginia.


Writing for Axios yesterday Eugene Scott reported that “29 states and Washington, D.C., have enacted a total of 70 laws expanding voting rights this year, while 16 states have enacted 29 laws to restrict voting, according to data and analysis by the nonprofit Voting Rights Lab (VRL). 8 states included in those counts imposed batches of laws that did both [Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming].”


He wrote that “the GOP's backlash to many pandemic-era measures that improved access to voting has continued, but voting-rights advocates have struck back with some big wins in the run-up to the 2024 election. While most of the new laws the VRL identified as improving voting rights are in blue states, some Republican-led states have come to embrace some voting policies that the GOP, led by former President Trump, had cited in their false claims of election fraud in 2020. One example: Arkansas, a solidly red state, eased restrictions on early voting and mail-in voting.”


Michigan holds the best record for expanding voting right this year— 7 new laws, including allowing for student IDs at the polls, expanding early voting and improved tracking procedures for mail-in ballots. Other swing states that did well include Nevada (4 new expansions, including improved voting access for Indigenous people and felons, and harsher penalties for tampering with voting equipment) and Virginia (3 new expansions).


Arizona's Republican-led legislature passed a resolution that raised questions about whether the state is moving toward banning some types of electronic vote tabulation systems.
Georgia’s Republican-led legislature, meanwhile, passed a measure that Democrats say could help inject partisan politics into how counties oversee their elections.
"Some of the greatest threats to voter access and fair elections are happening in many of the 2024 battleground states where Republicans control state government," said Megan Bellamy, vice president of law and policy at the VRL, which supports expanded access to voting.
The states that expanded voting rights this year also include Minnesota, which began allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote and now automatically registers people to vote when they renew or receive their driver's licenses.
Connecticut approved two weeks of early voting, protected voting access to minority communities that historically have faced discrimination, and provided more assistance to voters who don't speak English.
New Mexico enacted a law that allows Native Americans to vote and receive ballots at tribal office buildings, and automatically registers state residents to vote when they interact with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
New York now allows any voter to vote early by mail, without needing an excuse to do so.
Other states have continued to focus more on restrictions, some of which are legacies of the false claims of election fraud in 2020:
  • In-state student identification cards are no longer acceptable forms of voter ID in Idaho.

  • Non-photo identification cards are no longer an acceptable proof of ID in Ohio, which also limited mail-ballot drop boxes to one per county. Ohio also will no longer allow early voting the day before an election.

  • Ballot drop boxes and write-in candidates are no longer options in Arkansas.

  • And election drop boxes were banned in South Dakota, a decision most county auditors disagree with.

  • Indiana imposed new requirements for residents who request an absentee ballot, including that they provide proof of their identity with their driver's license number or Social Security number.

  • Collecting and delivering someone else's ballot is now illegal in Mississippi unless the individual is a caregiver, a family member, a household member of the voter— or a mail carrier.

Florida Senate candidate Alan Grayson— endorsed by Blue America— is the most progressive Florida Congress Member in any of our lifetimes. “The Republicans,” he said, “have become worldwide experts in how to discourage or restrict voting. Just in the last few months, we’ve seen a drop of 400,000 in registered voters in Florida, and the Republicans treat that as cause for celebration. If they thought they could get away with it, they would repeal the 19th amendment, the right for women to vote. The GOP is, literally, the anti-voting party. The question is, at what point will the electorate recognize that the anti-voting party is the anti-voter party?”


No one has been working longer than 90For90 to expand voting in Virginia. Today the executive director, Fergie Reid told me that he’s “concerned with increasing the universe of potential voters through voter registration— and giving that ever increasing universe of voters options on their ballots through candidate recruitment. The candidate recruitment phase is over; the candidate filing deadlines have past. The voter registration deadline in Virginia (to cast a normal ballot) is Oct. 22; a provisional ballot can be cast by those registering between Oct. 22 & Election Day. The numerical registration goal of 90for90 in Virginia is ~ 250k voter registrations/year; 90 registrations/precinct/year. Virginia needs 78,000 more registrations prior to Election Day 2023 to meet that goal. We'll see if that goal is met, sooner than later." Reid’s other concern is that of the 40 Senate seats and 100 House seats in the legislature up for grabs, the Dems are gifting the GOP 15 Delegate seats and 3 Senate seats (by not contesting them— wave or no wave.) Meanwhile the Republicans are gifting the Democrats 20 House seats and 3 Senate seats. “18 + 23 legislative districts,” he told me, “are essentially already decided = 41 seats. 140 - 41 = 99 seats ‘up for grabs.’”

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published Scott Calvert’s piece on why the Virginia legislative elections this coming November is the most important election of 2023, even more than giving clue about what to expect nationally in 2024. There is also the fate of Gov. Glenn Youngkin hanging in the balance. “Youngkin, while not on the ballot,” wrote Calvert, “is pushing hard for a GOP trifecta so he can pass a 15-week abortion limit and other conservative priorities— and so he can burnish his reputation as a Republican who can win in swing territory after his 2021 victory put him on the national map. If the Nov. 7 elections go well for his party, Youngkin could make a late entry into the 2024 presidential race— a prospect he hasn’t ruled out and some national Republicans have pined for privately… Or Youngkin, 56 years old, could try to continue building legislative and political victories with an eye to running for president in 2028. Virginia governors can’t serve consecutive four-year terms.”


Calvert reported that “Dominance in the state’s General Assembly likely will hinge on a handful of races. Blue America has endorsed 2 House candidates, Jessica Anderson and Kannan Srinivasan, and one Senate candidate, Victoria Luevanos. Srinivasan has all but sown up his race and Anderson and Luevanos are in very tight races that could go either way. You can contribute to all three Virginia candidates here. If they win, Youngkin is toast. “With no marquee office on the ballot,” wrote Calvert, “the key for Republicans and Democrats will be motivating their bases, political analysts say, although both sides are vying for the sliver of potentially persuadable voters in the middle.”


Democrats are betting on abortion access to energize voters, along with gun-control measures and LGBT protections. Republicans are focusing largely on parental involvement in education as well as [scare tactics about] crime and the economy.
“Because it’s a turnout election, you can glean whose base is more mobilized to come out and vote,” said Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett. Democrats need a strong showing from the party’s younger voters, he said, adding, “If this is an election decided by senior citizens, Glenn Youngkin will take total control.”
…“When Youngkin won, he was seen as almost the Republicans’ shiny new object who was able to capture lightning in a bottle. So it’s like, OK, are the Republicans going to get lucky again like that?” said J. Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
A recent Roanoke College poll found 51% of Virginians approve of Youngkin’s job performance as governor, versus 40% job approval for President Biden, who won the state by 10 points in 2020.
[I]ndependent voter Robin Menefee, 69, who voted for Biden in 2020 and Youngkin in 2021, said she would cast ballots for Democrats this fall because she opposes curbing abortion access. Current Virginia law allows abortion until about 26 weeks and thereafter only if the mother’s life or health is at serious risk.
“I don’t think the government has the right to step in and tell a woman what she should do with her body,” said Menefee, a retiree from the town of Rocky Mount.
A Christopher Newport poll last fall found that a majority of Virginians opposed the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision overturning Rose v Wade and two-thirds felt abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Yet the same poll found about half of voters supported banning abortion after 15 weeks with the exceptions Youngkin endorses.
Democrats, meanwhile, have proposed a state constitutional amendment that would guarantee abortion access, “unless justified by a compelling state interest and achieved by the least restrictive means that do not infringe an individual’s autonomous decision-making.” The measure said a state interest would be compelling only “to ensure the protection of the health of an individual seeking care.” Republicans have criticized that proposal as extreme and out of step with what Virginians want.
Don Scott, Democratic leader in the Virginia House, said he thinks fears of losing abortion access will drive many voters to the polls. He said while Youngkin backs a 15-week limit, the governor previously said he would sign any bill restricting abortion access.
“Every day they’re talking about abortion out there is a good day for us,” Scott said.


This morning, the progressive candidate for one of the most important House races (Williamsburg area), Jessica Anderson, told me that "While we can acknowledge Youngkin’s popularity, we cannot ignore Biden also won the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ask yourself why was that? It’s because Virginians saw the writing on the wall with Trump and his harmful policy and divisive language. Now look at Virginia’s Governor and listen to his push for an abortion ban, the push for targeting marginalized communities, condemning equality and diversity, diverting public schools funds into private institutions, with zero oversight and demonizing not only Virginia Democrat politicians, but the Virginians who voted for them. His language is moving towards the language of Trump and we need to show Youngkin and the Virginia GOP that we’re paying attention and we will NOT let him pull the wool over our eyes a second time around. Don’t let the smile and sweater vest fool you. He knew in 2021 that he couldn’t talk about his true agenda because he risked losing the independent vote and he knows his entire party is facing the same reality NOW. Stop letting them sell you 'common sense' facade because the GOP’s closed door conversations and voting record show the truth. Don’t let this November election turn our Virginia into Florida!"

3 Comments


pearlsroxanna
pearlsroxanna
Sep 04, 2023

I am very happy to see that Republicans in spite of their horrendous behavior towards voting Rights are not winning this.... And how the Supreme Court which is also very corrupt gutted the voting rights act in 2013. I believe that will be eventually changed back.

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Guest
Sep 06, 2023
Replying to

you think VRA will be changed back? by whom? obamanation's reaction (of all people!) to it was to regard his navel for 3 years... his party is still regarding their navels. And the nazi court is now 6-3 instead of 5-4.

so... who do you hallucinate will do that?

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Guest
Sep 04, 2023

In truth, the term "voting rights" is sort of oxymoronic. Because voting is codified NOT in the constitution but in a few federal laws (notably, VRA, which the supremes gutted during the obamanation admin) and state law, making it a privilege. Same notation, however: who the hell enforces those laws, and who refuses to do so are kinda important.


If you presume that "voters" have the "right" to vote, then the term "limit (or restrict) voting rights" is also oxymoronic. But, again, it isn't a "right", so ... there you are.


A truly comprehensive column on all the ways nazis have been restricting voting would be really long because they've been doing it for DECADES. And every so often ove…


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