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How the 5 vote-by-mail states have overhauled their election systems

This is the second in a series of articles examining changes to voting laws in every state.

The ongoing election evolution in the United States, while in large part catalyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic, has been building momentum for years.

Many states were already undergoing major overhauls to their election systems leading up to the 2020 election, even before the pandemic gripped the nation. And in the aftermath of the presidential contest, states have doubled down on voting reforms.

To provide a comprehensive analysis of the voting law changes in every state and Washington, D.C., since 2019, The Fulcrum compiled data from the Voting Rights Lab, the National Conference for State Legislatures, the Brennan Center for Justice, and state statutes and constitutions. This second installment focuses on the five states that conduct primarily vote-by-mail elections.

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How the 5 most populous states have overhauled their election systems

This is the first in a series of articles examining changes to voting laws in every state.

The ongoing election evolution in the United States, while in large part catalyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic, has been building momentum for years.

Many states were already undergoing major overhauls to their election systems leading up to the 2020 election, even before the pandemic gripped the nation. And in the aftermath of the presidential contest, states have doubled down on voting reforms.

To provide a comprehensive analysis of the voting law changes in every state and Washington, D.C., since 2019, The Fulcrum compiled data from the Voting Rights Lab, the National Conference for State Legislatures, the Brennan Center for Justice, and state statutes and constitutions. This first installment focuses on the five most populous states.

In California and New York, where Democrats control the state legislature and the governorship, the adjustments largely eased access to the ballot box, whereas Republican-led Florida and Texas mostly focused on tightening the voting rules. And in Pennsylvania, where there's a divided government, compromise on voting changes has been hard to come by.

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These states show bipartisan election reform is possible

Since last year's election, state legislatures have been advancing changes to voting and election rules along one of two divergent paths. Democrats are seeking expansions, like no-excuse absentee voting, while Republicans are pushing for increased security measures, like voter ID requirements.

In much of the country, one side can easily have its way without even attempting to reach across the aisle because one party controls both the legislature and the governorship. And in the 12 states with divided governments, too often there is contention rather than compromise.

Some purple states, like Kentucky and Vermont, have leaned into compromise and enacted bipartisan election reforms. But in other states, like Pennsylvania, partisan infighting is overriding any potential for collaboration.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign a legislation placing new restrictions on voting.

Florida Republicans follow Georgia GOP's lead on voting restrictions

Following in the footsteps of neighboring Georgia, Florida has become the second battleground state to pass an election overhaul bill designed to roll back access to absentee voting.

GOP lawmakers in Tallahassee pushed the legislation through both chambers Thursday, largely along party lines, with only one Republican senator voting against it. The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has touted Florida's current election system as "the gold standard." He is likely to sign the bill.

Despite finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Republicans maintained this legislation would make Florida's elections more secure. Former President Donald Trump won Florida by 3.3 percentage points in the 2020 election.

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