Red and blue states are increasingly moving in opposite directions on how millions of Americans can cast their ballots, exacerbating a growing divide as Republicans in states across the country — most recently Texas — impose new voting restrictions while Democrats in others expand access.
The conflicting trends are widening the disparities in election policy in the wake of the 2020 election — with Republicans heeding former president Donald Trump’s calls to tighten election rules and Democrats moving to make permanent voting policies that helped turnout soar during the pandemic.
At least 18 states enacted 30 laws restricting access to voting this year as of mid-July, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.
That includes 11 states — nine of which supported Trump in 2020 — that only imposed restrictions, and seven other states that both restricted and expanded voting access. Separately, an additional 18 states — nearly all of which backed President Biden — enacted laws that solely expanded access, the analysis shows.
Roughly 55 million voters live in states that tightened election rules, while about 70 million live in states that made voting easier, according to a similar analysis last week by the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab, which tracks developments in state election law. The report assumes that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will sign Texas’s contentious voting bill into law, which he has vowed to do.
As of Sept. 1, 45 states had passed 221 election bills into law this year, according to data provided by the Voting Rights Lab — a cascade of new policies that is reshaping Americans’ options for casting ballots.
The next fight is brewing in Ohio, where Republican lawmakers have introduced two competing bills to change election practices in the state — which Trump won by eight points amid the record-breaking turnout of 74 percent.