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GOP lawmakers propose wave of voting restrictions to appease Trump supporters

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The proposals include measures that would reduce eligibility for postal voting and ban the use of ballot boxes. A bill in Georgia would block early voting on Sunday, in what critics quickly called a blatant attempt to thwart souls at the polls, the Democratic turnout effort that targets black worshipers on the last Sunday before an election.

States where such legislation is under consideration also include Arizona, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Supporters believe actions are necessary as a large number of voters believe false claims outweigh false claims that President Biden won the 2020 election through widespread fraud.

The focus of our process here should be an attempt to restore our public’s confidence in our electoral system, said Barry Fleming, a lawmaker from Evans State, Ga., And the chairman of the new special committee of the Chamber on Electoral Integrity.

Other Republicans in Georgia say making it more difficult to vote without proof of the problem they claim to solve will result in a dangerous backlash from Democrats and supporters of the vote. They say the effort is mostly for the show, to appease Trump’s most ardent supporters, and they are pressuring Republican legislative leaders to prevent passage of all but a few measures.

Their concern rose sharply after the Jan. 6 insurgency on Capitol Hill by a pro-Trump mob echoing Trump rhetoric that some Republicans say threatens to dominate the 2022 mid-cycle cycle if they fail to find a way to overcome it. Investigators for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Georgia Department of Justice, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation have found no evidence of widespread fraud, and the Fulton County District Attorney is currently investigating Trumps’ efforts to overturn the result of the States.

There is still an appetite on the part of many Republicans to do things like this, but it’s not brilliant, said a Republican strategist in Georgia who spoke on condition of anonymity to candidly discuss internal party debates. . It just gives Democrats a baseball bat to fight with.

This hammering has already started. After Fleming unveiled a sweeping proposal on Thursday with provisions like tough new identification requirements when requesting a postal vote and a ban on line warming by non-partisan groups, including activities such as dispensing water in hot weather or blankets in the cold, Democrats and franchise advocates have rushed in.

Barry Fleming knows black voters in Georgia are the most likely to use early voting hours on weekends or vacations in person, and he knows black voters are the reason Georgia Democrats have won two seats in the US Senate last month, said Seth Bringman, a spokesperson for Fair. Fight Action, the voting rights organization founded by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Its intention could not be more transparent.

Black voters made up 36% of those who voted early and in person last fall on the days Fleming wants to eliminate, compared to about 30% of voters overall, according to an analysis by Fair Fight Action.

Common Cause Georgia executive director Aunna Dennis said she found one provision of the Fleming bill particularly repugnant: the ban on early voting on Sundays. Republicans said the measure is intended to level the playing field between richer counties that can afford to provide weekend voting hours and poorer rural counties that cannot.

But Dennis, who is black, said she sees a more nefarious goal in the proposal, which would overthrow Souls at the polls, a long-standing tradition in black communities of voting right after church on the Sunday before the election.

There is such pride in being able to dress your Sunday best and vote with your family and community, Dennis said. As a working single mom, Dennis said, she also believes the proposal would eliminate options for voters juggling complicated schedules.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, a civic rights think tank, lawmakers in 33 states have drafted more than 165 bills to restrict voting so far this year more than four times the number of legislative sessions in Last year. The group attributed the outbreak to a slew of baseless and racist allegations of electoral fraud and accused lawmakers of a backlash to historic voter turnout last year.

Arizona leads the country in restrictive proposals, followed by Pennsylvania and Georgia, the group said. These proposals include the elimination of mail-in ballots without excuse, which Americans across the country adopted during the pandemic, as well as a requirement to require voters to request mail-in ballots every year and prevent election administrators send a request to vote without a request from the voter.

The Brennan Center noted that many states are also considering a record number of new electoral protections.

Some Republicans have made it clear that they don’t think adopting voting restrictions is smart policy. In Georgia, House Speaker David Ralston and Senate Speaker Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan have both announced that they will not support legislation that restricts the right to vote by mail, as have proposed some lawmakers there and in other states.

Duncan also stripped the committee chairs of two Republican senators who had signaled plans to propose severe restrictions in an effort, several GOP officials said, to prevent such legislation from reaching the Senate.

These actions reflect the growing awareness among Republicans that restoring a small core of party activists who remain staunchly loyal to Trump is an increasingly perilous path.

Biden was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992, and Republicans lost both seats in the U.S. Senate in the Jan.5 runoff. The chaos that unfolded the next day on the U.S. Capitol likely alienated even more Georgians in the prized Atlanta suburbs, said several strategists, who once housed many reliable Republican voters, but have changed dramatically with the growth of the population these days. last years.

The number of people asking for blind loyalty has been a declining market since Jan.6, said Gabriel Sterling, a Republican official who serves as Georgia’s director of voting systems in the office of Raffensperger, the secretary of state, and who spoke during the disinformation campaign promoted by Trump. We’ll see more people realize that Republican voters represent a greater number of votes than Trump’s blindly devoted loyalists.

A major tension driving the introduction of the new voting bills: The GOP still needs these staunch Trump supporters to build an election-winning coalition, in addition to more moderate and independent voters put off by the false claims of fraud.

The Republican National Committee, which backed Trump’s claims last fall, has continued to promote the idea that voting systems are vulnerable. This week, the national party launched a new electoral integrity committee to appeal to GOP voters who do not trust the 2020 results, saying it plans to work with states parties to pass laws on the election. identity of voters and ensure that poll observers can observe the counting of the votes.

In a statement, RNC President Ronna McDaniel called last year’s changes to voting rules in response to the pandemic deeply troubling, saying they have brought chaos and uncertainty to our democratic processes. Holy. As president of the RNC, I will not stand idly by and the Party will respond.

Even some Republican supporters of the measures admitted there was no evidence that widespread fraud or irregularities tainted the 2020 election. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a state Trump won by more than three points The same was said on Friday as he announced a new blanket proposal to reduce the ballot boxes and limit the so-called harvest of ballots, when third parties are allowed to assemble and spin in postal votes.

Rather than resting on our laurels and congratulating ourselves on the success of the 2020 election, we better spend our time preparing for 2022 and beyond, DeSantis said. We don’t want to go back. We are here to make Florida a model for the rest of America.

And in Georgia, State Representative Alan Powell of Hartwell has hinted that it doesn’t matter whether the fraud actually took place on a large scale last year.

I won’t get into the part about, you know, pervasive voter fraud, Powell said in a televised committee hearing of the bill. He was not found. It was right in the minds of a lot of people that it was.

Sterling said some proposals underway in the Legislature are necessary and should be welcomed by all voters.

One provision would set a deadline for postal ballot requests 11 days before an election, a rule he said would protect voters, as requests received after that date are at a higher risk of not being processed quickly enough for voters return their ballots on time.

Other measures are well-intentioned but less achievable, Sterling said, such as one that requires all counties to report the number of ballots they have received before they begin to compile and publish the results.

While such a law could help combat public perceptions that new votes were suddenly found, something Trump falsely claimed in the days following November 3, when states were still processing ballots. postal voting, it would not be practical to implement because of the time it would take to count the ballots.

Fleming, the Georgian lawmaker who proposed the new bill on Thursday, said he hoped some of the measures would win the support of Republicans and Democrats, noting that left-wing activists were the ones who screamed scandal in 2018, when Republican Gov. Brian Kemp narrowly beat Abrams.

We were going to try to remedy some of these problems, he said in a committee hearing on Friday, and try to bring the left and the right back to a position where they generally have confidence in our electoral system.

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