“As Republicans Push to Limit Voting, Disagreements on Strategy Emerge”


This G.O.P. resistance to certain voting legislation reflects an awkward and delicate dance within the party: As state lawmakers loyal to former President Donald J. Trump try to please him and his supporters by enacting new voting limits across the country, they are facing pockets of opposition from other Republicans who argue that some of the bills go too far or would hurt their own voters.

These Republicans see themselves as moderating forces on bad bills. And they are instead proposing less stringent measures that they say will improve the efficiency and security of early voting now that so many more people are using it because of changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. They acknowledge, however, that their timing is bad. Pushing for any bill that includes new requirements for voting after an election that went more smoothly than many expected raises an inevitable question: Why now, if not to try to thwart Democrats?

The number of Republicans willing to speak out is modest compared with the many Trump-friendly lawmakers in G.O.P.-controlled state capitols who continue to validate the former president’s false claims of fraud by proposing harsh new voting measures. And even when other lawmakers in the party are successful in softening or stopping these, the outcome often remains new restrictions on voting — however small or subtle — that Democrats say are unnecessary and that are likely to disproportionately affect Black, Latino and poor voters.

But there is a difference between the public perception of these new laws and bills and the reality, Republicans say. Many of the most restrictive provisions have never made it past the bill-drafting phase or a legislative committee, halted by Republican leaders who say it is counterproductive to limit forms of voting that are convenient and that people in both parties prefer. (Republicans in states like Arizona have amassed such power in state legislatures in no small part because for many years their own voters embraced voting by mail.) And some Republicans have criticized as anti-democratic efforts to empower state legislators to reject the will of voters.

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