US sees wave of offensives to restrict voting access in Republican states

The record-breaking turnout in the conflict that brought Joe Biden to the White House still resonates and has generated a historic backlash against the US electoral system. Under the pretext of responding to false allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, several states are passing laws that restrict voting and could make elections less democratic in the United States.

Since Donald Trump’s defeat in November last year, Republican lawmakers have introduced hundreds of bills to make voting more difficult for black and vulnerable people, in an expert assault as the most dangerous since so called Jim Laws. Crow,
who legalized racial segregation at the end of the 19th century.

An investigation by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University shows that, from November to March 24, 361 bills with voting restrictions were introduced in 47 of the 50 U.S. states. On February 19, the number was 253, a 43% increase in shares in just over a month.

Most of these projects aim to restrict postal voting, a common practice in the United States and the use of which broke a record in last year’s election due to the pandemic – and one of the contributing factors. Biden’s victory.

At the end of last month, the approval of a highly restrictive election package in Georgia alarmed experts, who detected some sort of ripple effect on generally race-defining states in the White House, like Texas. , Arizona, Florida and Michigan. All are also evaluating to approve new electoral standards.

With 10.6 million inhabitants, 32.6% of whom are black, Georgia had not voted for a Democrat for president in 28 years, but in 2020 it gave Trump’s opponents a double victory: he has elected Biden and the president who gave the Democrats a majority in the Senate.

The results stirred the mood of Trump’s allies, who acted quickly. Among the measures approved by the state’s legislature, which is a Republican majority, is the requirement of a photo ID for those who vote by mail, in addition to reducing the time and number of polling stations. vote where these ballots can be cast. There was even a criminalization of handing out food or drink to those in the queues.

Jonathan Hanson, an expert in public policy statistics at the University of Michigan, agrees that this is the biggest wave against the electoral system the United States has seen since the segregationist laws and that the elections have become de less and less democratic in the republican states.

“The impact of the approval of these laws will be the reduction of electoral participation”, explains the professor. “Most of them are designed to make voting more difficult for Democratic voters, who tend to be low-income, with jobs that often don’t allow them to go to the polls. [eleições nos EUA acontecem em dia útil]and are less likely to have photo documents. “

In the United States, voting is not compulsory and voters can choose their candidate in three ways: the most traditional is to go to the polls on election day, but you can also vote ahead in person or vote. by mail.

Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is due to run for Georgian government in 2022, condemns the new legislation. She played a key role in encouraging young people and blacks to go to the polls last year.

“These bills are being enacted across the country with the aim of blocking voters who become troublesome to the Republican Party: minorities, young people and the poor,” he said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Also according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice, of the hundreds of projects subject to voting restrictions, five have been approved – one in Georgia – and another 55 are moving quickly in 24 different states – 29 of them have already been approved. at least, the State Chamber and 26 others have gone through committees.

The states with the most bills introduced were Texas (29), Georgia (25) and Arizona (23), all of which have a Republican tradition but have moved to the center-left, with demographic shifts which reflect the political trend. of their populations.

The assessment that access to the vote has become increasingly difficult in parts of the country is crystallized in a study by the University of Washington, led by political scientist Jake Grumbach. It shows that these restrictive laws follow a broader pattern and have made elections less democratic over the past two decades, almost exclusively in states controlled by Republicans.

Grumbach developed what he called the State Democracy Index, to measure the health of democratic institutions in all 50 US states between 2000 and 2018, based on the right to vote and civil liberties. In a range of -1 to 1, where 1 is more democratic and -1 is less democratic, Republican-led states are close to -1, while Democratic-controlled states are close to 0.5.

Some democratic regions have invested in laws that extend the right to vote, but they are still in the minority, as about 30 of the 50 U.S. states have at least one controlled legislature.
by Trump supporters.

It’s not only today that Republicans are trying to block the vote of black, poorer and more vulnerable voters, but this year’s battle has drawn attention to the sheer volume of effort on the eve of disputes. midway through 2022 and on Biden’s attempt at direct interference. The president called the law passed in Georgia “anti-American” and asked the Justice Department to assess the changes.

Professor Hanson, however, warns that there is little that Biden can do on his own – states have autonomy to control their electoral processes in the United States – and says that ultimately only the Supreme Court could ban the action for violations of the US constitution. .

“Justice can prevent black people from being banned from voting, for example, because it is a violation of the right to vote. But there are still gray areas, like the time limit for early voting, in which the state can say that is its mission. The American electoral system is so complicated that in fact, a little of everything is fine.

Some Republicans – who are the wing most loyal to Trump – say the new rules will make elections safer and more accessible, but more moderate party staff fear the political cost of the assault.

Instead of trying to convince the groups that voted hard for Biden, they say, the party is trying to sideline them from the democratic process in the name of conspiracy theories sponsored by the most controversial president in American history.

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