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With the Legislature's approval, the two restrictive voting bills now head to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk.

Arkansas Republicans push through new voting restrictions

Arkansas is positioned to become the next state to tighten rules around voting and election procedures.

This week, the Republican-majority Legislature approved two measures that would implement new restrictions on absentee voting and activities near polling places. Both bills now head to GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who is expected to sign them.

This continues a nationwide trend of Republican lawmakers pushing hundreds of restrictive voting bills in response to false claims of fraud in the 2020 elections. At the same time, Democratic legislators have been advocating for easing access to the ballot box.

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Almost every state offers at least one method of early voting to all eligible voters.

The 7 states where voting before Election Day is most difficult

Nearly every state legislature is considering bills to either roll back pandemic-era voting easements or make permanent the rules that allowed a record-breaking number of Americans to cast their ballots ahead of Election Day.

But with election officials already looking ahead to the 2022 midterms, the Center for Election Innovation and Research is concerned with the rules that are on the books right now. So CEIR released a report Monday analyzing the current laws in each state to determine where it will be easiest to cast a ballot early in person or by mail next year.

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Vermont was one of five states to switch to a primarily vote-by-mail system for the 2020 election.

Vermont moves toward permanent vote-by-mail elections

After conducting a predominantly vote-by-mail election last year, Vermont lawmakers are looking to make that change permanent.

On Tuesday, the state Senate passed a bill to adopt universal mail voting for future general elections. Like the rest of the country, Vermont saw record-high turnout in the 2020 presidential election, and supporters of this measure attribute that success to expanded vote-by-mail access.

Vermont was one of five states (plus Washington, D.C.) that opted to mail every voter an absentee ballot for the 2020 election. With this legislation likely to succeed, Vermont is poised to be the first of these states to make primarily vote-by-mail elections a long-standing practice, joining five others that already had such systems prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Having passed the state House, it now moves across the Capitol to the Senat.

Kentucky lawmakers make rare bipartisan push for voting expansions

While many GOP lawmakers across the country are pushing for voting restrictions, Republicans in Kentucky are taking a different approach.

Last week, the state House passed with near unanimous support a bill to allow for early voting on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Election Day. Although this period is much shorter than the three weeks of early voting allowed during last year's pandemic-era election, making early voting a permanent fixture in Kentucky is still a significant expansion.

Following the 2020 election, in which most states adapted their voting rules and procedures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, legislators are now considering whether to make these voting expansions permanent or to roll back access to the ballot box. Republicans are generally in favor of more restrictive measures because they erroneously claim their proposals will protect against mail voting fraud, but opponents see such moves as efforts to suppress left-leaning voters.

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