Republicans are doing everything in their power to make voting as difficult as possible. The gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a few years ago doesn’t help. That said, there are other remedies and it is really important that we push for voting rights right now.
The Democrats in the U.S. House have proposed For the People Act (HR1) that would expand voting rights nationwide, but it would likely get stopped in the Senate, at least while the Republicans are in control. Thankfully, there are a LOT of bills being proposed in state legislatures all over the country that would expand voting rights.
Bills that are being proposed:
Arkansas – HB1004 would create the Arkansas Voter Integrity and Security Act, and would require Automatic Voter Registration
California – AB-49 would create the California Voter Protection Act and would allow certain counties to do all-mailed ballots
Georgia – HB 18 would allow for automatic voter registration for any eligible voters whenever they use the DMV
Indiana – Several bills that would increase the hours that polls are open, allow for same-day registration and no-excuse absentee voting
New Jersey – They are looking to enact a large number of voting reforms including early voting, same-day registration, pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds, and extending registration deadline.
New Mexico – Legislators are working to enact Automatic Voter Registration and same-day registration, as well as repealing a law that strips voting rights from citizens convicted of felonies
New York – The state legislature already passed a huge number of voting rights bills, but more pressure is needed to get the governor to sign the bills and then fund them through his budget.
Missouri – Legislators have introduced bills for automatic voter registration, early voting, and no-excuse absentee voting
Montana – Bills have been introduced to expand voter registration and the use of absentee ballots
North Dakota – Legislators have filed a bill to extend early voting.
South Carolina – Legislators have introduced bills establishing Automatic Voter Registration, early voting, same-day registration, and lengthening registration deadlines
Texas – Bills have been introduced to establish Automatic Voter Registration, online and same-day registration, and repealing the state’s voter ID requirement.
Utah – There is a bill proposing to make early voting easier.
Virginia – Legislators are looking to enact no-excuse absentee voting, repeal voter ID requirements, and start Automatic Voter registration, early voting, and same-day registration.
Washington – Bills have been introduced to expand the voting rights for Native Americans (HOUSE BILL 1339), plus allowing teenagers who will be 18 by the general election to vote in primaries (SENATE BILL 5283)
Now mind you, these are just the bills that I was able to find. The Brennan Center tracks all the legislation (but doesn’t always detail the exact bills) and has identified 131 bills over the 15 states so far this year. You’ll need to be in touch with your legislators and voting rights organizations to learn more.
Great! So now what?
If you live in any of these states and want to push to see this legislation come to fruition, I suggest you 1) call your state legislators to find out more about the bill, 2) let them know if you are in favor of the bill being passed, and 3) find others who are also passionate about voting rights and work with them to pressure the legislature to get the bill passed. For starters, I’d reach out to your local/state chapter of the ACLU or the League of Women Voters.
For those of you who’d like to search for legislation in your state yourself, start with a quick internet search using search terms like “how to look up proposed legislation in [your state]” and then, once you navigate to that page, use key words like “voting” “voter registration” etc. to find proposed legislation.