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GOP seeks to roll back mail voting in states Trump is contesting


#Joey #Garrison

| USA TODAY

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WASHINGTON – #As #President #Donald #Trump continues to level baseless claims of voter fraud almost two months after his #Nov. 3 election loss, #Republican lawmakers in states #Trump contested are pushing new voting restrictions for future elections.

#That includes proposals to roll back laws in #Georgia and #Pennsylvania that allowed all registered voters to vote by mail – moves that civil rights and voting advocates say could suppress turnout.

#It comes after nearly 160 million #Americans – the highest share of eligible voters in more than a century – voted in the #November election won by #President-elect #Joe #Biden, fueled by a surge in mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. #Americans cast 101 million mail-in ballots, accounting for 63% of the overall vote, with #Biden supporters dominating mail-in voting by a 2 to 1 margin over #Trump supporters.

“#It’s unfortunate that these lawmakers – some of whom actually put this in place and voted for it and worked on expanding it – are now looking at an outcome of an election and deciding that they think it didn’t benefited them,” said #Amber #McReynolds, CEO of the #National #Vote at #Home #Institute. “#That’s the most destructive way to enact policies around voting.”

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‘#It really is over now:’ The 24 hours that likely thwarted #Trump’s effort to overturn the election

#Civil rights groups are watching

#Trump unsuccessfully tried to overturn election results in six battleground states he lost, falsely arguing the election was stolen from him despite no evidence of systematic widespread fraud. #Congress is set to meet #Jan. 6 to count #Biden’s 306-232 win in the #Electoral #College.

#Since the election, the #Supreme #Court twice refused to take up #Trump-endorsed lawsuits that sought to overturn the election results and federal and state courts dismissed #Trump’s claims of voter fraud nearly 60 times.

#In #Georgia, which #Biden won by 12,500 votes after two recounts, the state #Senate #Republican #Caucus said its leaders plan to “reform our election laws” by introducing legislation to eliminate no-excuse absentee voting that allows all voters to request a mail ballot without needing a reason. #When the legislature reconvenes, they also plan to propose a photo identification requirement and the elimination of mail-ballot drop boxes.

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#Trump: #President rehashes baseless election claims in 46-minute video from the #White #House

‘#Fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation:’ #Georgia official says #Trump supporters misled

#In #Wisconsin, where a #Trump-led recount also reaffirmed #Biden’s win, #Republican lawmakers have discussed proposals to tighten photo identification requirements for absentee voting, ban clerks from filling in the addresses of witnesses on absentee ballot envelopes and limit opportunities to drop off ballots.

#Michigan #Republican lawmakers have floated measures to ensure access of poll watchers and to remove ineligible voters from voting rolls, the news outlet #Bridge #Michigan reported. #And in #Pennsylvania, a state #House #Republican said he plans to file legislation to repeal the state’s new no-excuse law that #Republicans and #Democrats worked to pass last year.

“#You’re likely to have fewer people voting if you put more restrictions on who can vote by mail and who can’t,” said #Jon #Greenbaum, chief counsel and senior deputy director for the #Lawyers’ #Committee for #Civil #Rights under #Law, which is tracking the legislative developments.

“#It’s unfortunate that you have states contemplating going backwards in terms of making voting more accessible. #It’s a very cynical way of looking at the world when one of your goals is that you want to have less voter turnout rather than more.”

#Raffensperger pushes changes in #Georgia

#Any changes to voting laws by the #Republican-controlled legislatures of #Wisconsin, #Pennsylvania and #Michigan would face possible vetoes if #Democratic governors in those states objected.

#But #Georgia, which flipped #Democratic in the presidential race for the first time since 1992, is led by both a #Republican-controlled legislature and #Republican governor, #Brian #Kemp. #That dynamic has made #Georgia #No. 1 on the radar of voting rights advocates.

‘#It has to stop:’ #Georgia official calls on #Trump to ‘stop inspiring’ death threats over election

#Georgia has had no-excuse absentee voting since 2005. #But state #Senate #Republicans have pledged to offer legislation that would limit mail-voting to only seniors, the disabled and overseas and military voters. #Republicans’ photo ID requirement would mirror the state’s existing requirement for photo identification to vote in-person.

“I don’t think there should be different standards for the same process,” #Republican #Senate #Majority #Leader #Mike #Dugan said.

#Both measures have the support of #Georgia #Secretary of #State #Brad #Raffensperger, a #Republican, who has drawn the ire of #Trump for pushing back at the president’s false voter fraud claims. #Raffensperger said allowing all #Georgians to vote by mail during the pandemic dramatically increased the burden on election workers.

“Asking county elections officials to hold no-excuse absentee ballot voting in addition to three weeks of early, in-person voting, and election day voting is too much to manage,” #Raffensperger said. “#For the sake of our resource-stretched and overwhelmed elections officials, we need to reform our absentee ballot system.”

#Although the proposals would apply only to future elections, voting restrictions for the #Jan. 5 U.S. #Senate runoff elections – which has seen more than 2 million people vote early – are also under scrutiny.

#In a win for #Democrats, a federal judge in #Georgia – #Leslie #Abrams #Gardner, the sister of progressive leader #Stacey #Abrams – on #Monday ordered two counties to reverse a decision to remove 4,000 voters from voting rolls. The judge ruled the counties improperly relied on change-of-address data that wasn’t verified.

‘I owe it to my constituents,’ #Pennsylvania lawmaker says

#In #Georgia, nearly twice as many #Biden voters voted by mail than #Trump supporters. The disparity was even greater in #Pennsylvania, where nearly 2 million of the state’s 2.6 million mail voters – 77% – voted for #Biden, compared to nearly 600,000 – 23% – for #Trump.

The past year marked the first time #Pennsylvania allowed all voters to vote-by-mail after lawmakers from both parties joined with #Gov. #Tom #Wolf, a #Democrat, to pass the law, known as #Act 77, in 2019.

#How #America voted: #Four maps show 2020 results by county, number of voters

#Pennsylvania state #Rep. #Jim #Gregory, R-Hollidaysburg, who voted for the law, is now sponsoring legislation to repeal it. #He said he’s not doing so because #Trump lost #Pennsylvania but instead pointed to feelings of mistrust from voters in his heavily #Republican rural district.

“#My constituents have, in no uncertain terms, let me know their feelings about the election,” said #Gregory, whose district backed #Trump, 73% to 27%, in the election. #He said they are convinced of fraud and irregularities, adding that “the thing that probably caught my attention the most” is some people told him they’re never going to vote again as a result.

“#And so I just feel like I owe it to my constituents to say that I voted for #Act 77, but what I didn’t vote for is what we ended up with as the election product in #Pennsylvania. #And that product is what they have a lot of mistrust in.”

#He blamed subsequent actions by #Wolf, #Secretary of #State #Kathy #Boockvar, a #Democrat, and the #Pennsylvania #Supreme #Court. The state’s high court upheld #Democrat-led measures to allow ballot drop boxes, permit ballots to be received three days after #Election #Day and to not require matching signatures.

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‘#It’s an accessibility issue’

#Trump attacked mail-in voting in the months before the election, calling it rife with fraud and claiming it favors #Democrats, even though in prior elections, #Republicans had a mail-voting advantage over #Democrats in many states.

#Greenbaum noted that #Georgia’s #Republican leaders did not require photo identification for absentee voting in 2005 when the state passed a law requiring photo identification to vote in-person. #Back then, he said, #Republicans generally voted by mail in higher numbers than #Democrats.

“#This has all flipped,” he said. “#It’s not consistent  – after this 2020 election in which voters of color and #Democratic voters were more likely to use vote-by-mail – to now all of a sudden have all these restrictions.”

#More: #Fewer rejected ballots seemed to be a win for voter access; #Trump and others disagree

#Even though #Democrats embraced mail-in voting nationally more than #Republicans, #McReynolds said politically red states such as #Utah, #Montana, #Nebraska – where ballots were mailed to either all or most registered voters – voted in greater margins for #Republicans than the past.

“#It’s an accessibility issue,” said #McReynolds, who previously oversaw all-mail elections in #Denver. “There’s a lot of reasons to vote absentee, and it’s unfortunate that lawmakers would want to put barriers on people when they’re just trying to cast their vote.”

#More: #Democrats led early voting after #Trump’s attacks on mail-in ballots. #Now #Trump needs to dominate #Election #Day

#Some states could change when ballots are counted

The push to change voting laws among #Republicans has expanded beyond states #Trump lost.

#Texas #Republican lawmakers, according to the #Texas #Tribune, have filed nearly a dozen bills aimed at mail-in balloting, illegal voting and the conduct of elections officials. #One bill would prevent officials from sending voters unsolicited applications to request mail-in ballots.

#Despite the flurry of proposals, #McReynolds said she believes many states will look to expand mail-in voting after record participation in 2020.

#More: ‘#Running out of time’: #Efforts to speed up counting mail ballots stall in battleground states

#One area has a chance for bipartisan agreement in three states: changing when absentee ballots can be counted.

#Ahead of the election, the legislatures of #Pennsylvania, #Wisconsin and #Michigan refused to change their laws to allow the processing of absentee ballots to begin in weeks before #Election #Day despite the pleas of local election officials.

#It resulted in long delays in counting ballots and releasing totals  – a scenario that #Trump exploited to falsely allege ballots were “dumped” overnight out of nowhere.

#More: #Senate leader wants bill by #July to allow absentee counting before #Election #Day

#Wisconsin #Republican state #Sen. #Devin #LeMahieu, the incoming #Senate leader, is pushing legislation to allow election officials to count absentee ballots before #Election #Day.

#He said he believes the new measures would “increase the faith in election results.”

#Contributing: #Associated #Press and #Patrick #Marley of the #Milwaukee #Journal #Sentinel. #Reach #Joey #Garrison on #Twitter @joeygarrison.



[ source link ]
https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2020/12/30/gop-seeks-roll-back-mail-voting-states-trump-lost-2020/3958391001/

#GOP #seeks #roll #mail #voting #states ##Trump #contesting

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