McDonald is an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida and runs the U.S. Elections Project, which maintained a comprehensive database on 2020 voting methods and turnout in every state.
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The public's access to electoral democracy may be about to dangerously contract — or else expand dramatically.
So far, the movement to restrict access to the ballot box has gotten by far the most play. The Georgia law enacted to national headlines last week goes way beyond barring water deliveries at polling places, in part by setting a disturbing precedent in stripping administrative power from nonpartisan election officials and placing it in the hands of politicians. Broad new curbs on voting in Iowa, enacted three week ago, include criminal charges for local officials who skirt the new rules. Six other states are considering similar moves to take power from nonpartisan election administrators.
Less noticed, meanwhile, has been a parallel movement to expand voter access in states literally from coast to coast.
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Partisan passions erupted on Wednesday at the Senate's first-ever hearing on HR 1, which has rapidly transformed from the democracy reform movement's longshot wish list into one of the topflight fights in Congress.
The session magnified the virtually total disagreement between the bill's Democratic proponents and Republican opponents. Not a glimmer of potential compromise surfaced, even about the need to do anything to fix the system.
"We have an existential threat to democracy on our hands," Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared. Minutes later, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell derided the measure as "a solution in search of a problem" because "states are not engaging in efforts to suppress voters, whatsoever."
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Republican lawmakers have turned back efforts to make no-excuse absentee voting a permanent fixture in New Hampshire.
On Thursday, the GOP-led state Senate voted along party lines to reject a bill that would have eliminated the excuse requirement to vote by mail.
During the 2020 election, all 1.1 million New Hampshire voters were able to request an absentee ballot due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Democratic lawmakers had hoped to make voting by mail a fixed option in future voting.
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