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GOP Legislation Puts Restrictions on Voter Registration Efforts

A number of Republican-controlled statehouses are advancing legislation to rein in voter registration drives that helped young and minority voters sweep Democrats into power at the state and national level during the 2018 midterms.

In Tennessee, the Senate recently passed a bill that would require training for voter registration groups and levy fines against groups for submitting incomplete registration forms. The bill has the backing of Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett and is similar to a measure the House already passed.

The Nashville-based Equity Alliance, a group that registers black voters, said in a statement that the recently passed Senate bill was "blatantly racist" and likened it to "Jim Crow-era intimidation."

In Arizona, the House has passed a bill that would ban voter registration groups from paying employees by the number of registration forms they submit.

Civil rights groups fear this type of legislation, specifically bills targeting voter registration, will become more common in GOP-led statehouses. In Texas, for instance, lawmakers are considering a measure to make it a felony to include false information on a voter registration form, which could potentially criminalize a simple clerical mistake.

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"I would not be surprised if we see more and more of these types of bills being proposed particularly in places like Tennessee where you've seen really high turnout in recent elections among groups that have been traditionally more marginalized," Sophia Lin Lakin, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project, told The Hill.

At least 19 bills in 10 states are advancing with the intent of placing new restrictions over voting and voter registration efforts, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, which supports easier ballot access.

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