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Voting Access Proposals Are Sweeping the Nation

There has been a surge in legislation to ease access to the polls during the early days of state legislative sessions across the country.

The New York University School of Law's Brennan Center counts at least 230 bills that have been filed or pre-filed at state capitals since the midterm election – with bipartisan efforts to place automatic voter registration, vote-by-mail, same-day registration or the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons on the legislative agendas in 31 states.

These bills stand a chance of enactment not only in Democratic strongholds but also a handful of generally Republican states, including Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas.

Bills to increase voter access have far outpaced those written in the name of boosting election integrity. The Brennan Center counts just 24 measures, such as those to require voter ID, proof of citizenship at the polls or limiting early voting.

Stateline, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts focused on trends in state policymaking, quotes the Brennan Center's Max Feldman as saying that even if the Republican Senate never takes up HR 1 (the House Democrats' sweeping "good government" legislation) that ambitious bill has nonetheless succeeded in setting a tone for state lawmakers to push big voting changes. "State lawmakers were paying attention," he said.

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