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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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Democrats in the House released a report Thursday outlining what they say are widespread voting rights violations found during a series of hearings around the country. They are looking to reinstate a portion of the original Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. Above, President Lyndon Johnson hands one of the pens he used to sign the bill to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Another partisan turn in the standoff over reviving the Voting Rights Act

House Democrats are continuing their push for stronger voting rights protections, releasing findings Thursday from a series of 2019 field hearings across the country on impediments to voting.

The 144-page report concludes that "the fundamental right to vote is under attack" and calls for congressional action.

But the report, prepared by the Democrats on a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over elections policy, does not include any of the views of minority Republicans, who said in a separate statement that they disagree with the Democrats' conclusions.

The usual practice in Congress is to include dissenting views in all committee reports, so the breakdown of that process is further evidence of Capitol Hill's ever more harshly partisan tone in general and its recent approach to voting rights in particular.

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