After losing a presidential election, political parties typically engage in a certain amount of reflection over what went wrong: their candidate’s strategy is debated; their messaging gets revamped; their national leadership is replaced. But that’s not what Republicans have done following Joe Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump and their party’s failure to keep control of the Senate. Instead, they’ve undertaken a fierce assault on voting rights, an effort the Washington Post describes as “potentially amounting to the most sweeping contraction of ballot access in the United States since the end of Reconstruction.”
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Republican lawmakers have “carried over, prefiled, or introduced 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access in 43 states” since the beginning of the year. Many of these measures take aim at the temporary expansion of early and mail-in voting during the pandemic, which helped drive the largest voter turnout in more than a century. (The Washington Post estimated that an astonishing 73 percent of the 2020 electorate voted before Election Day.) In Georgia, for example, Republicans are seeking to repeal no-excuse absentee voting and reduce Sunday voting—the latter move obviously made with African-American churchgoers in mind. Florida and Arizona are trying to curtail absentee voting. Other states might require photocopies of driver’s licenses as verification for mail-in ballots, limit voting hours, and kick people off of voting rolls.