These countries are about to apply the new Voting Law to the test

In March, Judge Wendell Griffen of Pulaski County gave a blunt assessment of four new voting laws in Arkansas.

He said the new laws — two of which would make voting by mail more difficult, in addition to adding new ID requirements for provisional ballots — violated the state’s constitution. states and places an undue burden on voters. For a moment, Arkansas suffrage activists could breathe a sigh of relief.

But their peace did not last long.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge quickly appealed the ruling. And on April 4, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the laws. In a state with the lowest turnout in the nation in the 2020 election, advocates fear these policies will only make participation worse.

And Arkansas is not alone.

Several states that have passed new voting restrictions over the past year — including Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama and Indiana — have primaries this month. Their results will be the first major test of the impact of new voting restrictions enacted after the 2020 election and former President Trump’s election hysteria.


Illustrated by The Daily Beast

Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth, who assumes the role of county elections administrator in Arkansas, said implementing the changes in her state has been “a nightmare”. She worries about a new regulation requiring voters’ signatures on their absentee ballots to match what the state has on file — fearing that signatures might naturally change over the years.

“We are not handwriting experts,” she told The Daily Beast.

And informing voters of the changes, including a change to the deadline for returning absentee ballots, forced her to launch a public messaging campaign ahead of the May 24 primary election. “It was also really difficult because the secretarial office never really had the budget to make public service announcements… Now, we are having to consider maybe adjusting our budget to make it easier to do public service announcements… we can add public relations,” says Hollingsworth.

In Georgia, the new law added ID requirements for voting by mail, shortened the deadline to register to vote absentee, reduced access to absentee ballot boxes, and — apparently drew the most outrage online — banning water transfers to voters. by long line.

Alabama also restricts access to absentee ballots. Indiana has issued an ID requirement for online absentee ballot registration that must match what the state has on file, something advocates worry could make people uncomfortable. when sharing personal information on the internet — as well as people who don’t have those numbers when they register to vote.

Indiana, which holds its primary May 3, has a series of strict requirements for who can vote by mail, limiting it primarily to people with disabilities, the elderly, or those without. any means of transportation to the polls. By adding additional requirements to the process, suffrage activists fear Supporters will waive the option. For those unable to vote in person, that could mean giving up voting altogether.

“It takes us in the wrong direction. It’s another way to confuse voters by putting more obstacles in their way,” Common Cause Indiana executive director Julia Vaughn told The Daily Beast.

In Arkansas, Hollingsworth is sure the new laws will cause some confusion, adding that voters “may not know there’s a change.” And Arkansans don’t get much time to fix their ballots if something goes wrong, Hollingworth said.

While these states will be the first large-scale test of the impact of the new, restrictive voting laws – they won’t be the first.

To date, Texas is the only state to hold the 2022 primaries, which take place on March 1. The state also has new voting laws that require voters to provide a driver’s license or social security number. association in their absentee ballot application and fact. vote — and have that ID match what the state has on file.

That change, among others, left election administrators scrambling to understand the new rules and how to effectively communicate those regulations with voters. Confusion surrounding the new law, coupled with mismatched information for some, led to 12% of mail-in ballots being rejected based on the new rule.

Texas will also have preliminaries on May 24 for races where no candidate has scored 50 percent in the final round of voting. Supporters say the March 1 primaries helped identify some of the initial problem areas with the new law — and election officials have more guidance around this time. But they do not expect the problems to be resolved by a second preliminary round.

“Am I confident that the state will do a better job? No, I don’t,” Charlie Bonner, communications director for voting rights advocacy group MOVE Texas, told The Daily Beast. He argues that the purpose of the law is to make it more difficult to vote — and in that sense, the law is working as it should.

A common concern among election regulators and organizers in these states with the new voting laws is that individuals may be inadvertently breaking the law. In Arkansas, for example, one of four new laws prohibits voters from standing within 100 feet of a polling place unless they are actively waiting to cast their ballot. Hollingsworth questions what can happen to individuals who make small talk in their path — or bump into someone they know as they pass.

Elections officers are also subject to close scrutiny in enforcing the new rules, which are not always straightforward to understand.

But organizers in those states warn that the primary is just a test run to see what impact the new laws will have in the November general election. Republican state leadership will likely be the enforcement mechanism for most of these news policies — but most of the GOP will have primaries of their own, potentially pushing them out. Democratic primaries or caucuses, says Cliff Albright, jammer Georgia Black Voters Matter jammer.

Albright said Georgia’s 2021 election comes after the new law went into effect, primarily for local seats, allowing organizers to pinpoint areas of confusion for voters. He said they have found alternatives and are “cautiously optimistic” going into the main season.

But Albright warned that those 2021 impacts are not “what we’re going to see this year.”

In the general election, the Republicans will be more at stake, and all the more reason to get involved in knocking down these new election rules. Georgia’s 2022 general election is expected to be a hotbed of political activism, with Republicans hoping to win back the state after a green wave swept through both the Senate and Senate seats. presidential vote in the state in last year’s election.

“Whatever we’re going to see in these primaries isn’t going to be all the problems,” he added.

In 2022, state legislatures have also continued to consider potential new changes to election law, with Republican lawmakers and voters still questioning the legitimacy of the election. 2020 election, although there is no evidence of widespread fraud. Bonner argues that any attempt to continue to enact new voting restrictions – especially after seeing the impact in Texas and the potential for disenfranchisement in these upcoming states – is a blunder. offend the right to vote of individuals.

“When we don’t actually legislate, real people get hurt,” he said. These countries are about to apply the new Voting Law to the test


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