Understanding how new voting restrictions will influence our elections is difficult. Political science hasn’t found that these types of laws have that big of an effect, at least as individual measures. But, while laws that make it more taxing to vote are not new, the current onslaught of voting restrictions and changes to how elections will be administered is not something we’ve grappled with on this scale. Additionally, there is their nakedly partisan origins — nearly 90 percent of the voting laws proposed or enacted in 2021 were sponsored primarily or entirely by Republican legislators — and the fact that these laws are likely to have a greater impact on Black and brown voters, who are less likely to vote Republican.
Republican efforts to pass new voter restrictions have been so aggressive and widespread that their effects are hard to predict. Elections, moreover, don’t run themselves; they’re run by people. And these new laws point to an even more troubling problem that threatens to undermine our democracy: the GOP’s eroding commitment to democratic values, like free and fair elections. In many ways, the most concerning change our elections face may not be any one law, but rather the GOP’s increased willingness to take such anti-democratic actions.