RELEASE: How the Freedom to Vote Act Would Counteract State Laws That Undermine Elections
Washington, D.C. — A new analysis from the Center for American Progress shows how the Freedom to Vote Act would specifically counter state laws aimed at suppressing voter turnout and sabotaging valid election results. CAP supports the Freedom to Vote Act and has called on the Senate to pass this transformative legislation as soon as possible, even if it requires reforming the filibuster to do so.
Passage of this far-reaching legislation is critical to set nationwide voting standards to help counteract anti-democratic laws passed by legislatures in at least 17 states that are designed to suppress voters of color, voters with disabilities, young people, and members of other historically underrepresented groups.
CAP’s analysis focuses on newly enacted laws in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas and explains how specific components of the Freedom to Vote Act would protect voter access, preserve mail voting, and make elections less vulnerable to political interference.
“The Senate must act now to prevent these states from subverting our democracy,” said Ben Olinsky, senior vice president of Structural Reform and Government at CAP. “These harmful state measures are a blatant attempt to suppress voters and undermine the legitimacy of elections. Passing the Freedom to Vote Act would be a major step in reversing these discriminatory anti-voting efforts and help ensure that partisan officials cannot sabotage valid election results.”
The analysis highlights specific examples of how the Freedom to Vote Act will reverse the harmful impact of anti-voting and election subversion measures, including the following:
- Prevent the state from removing an estimated 150,000 voters from its permanent early voting list for simply failing to cast a mail ballot every single election.
- Prohibit Arizona from providing ballots and other election materials to phony private auditors without the supervision of election officials.
- Prevent the state from discarding ballots that are unsigned by election night, giving voters three additional days to sign their ballot after the receipt deadline.
- Block the state from requiring strict identification for voters who request mail ballots. This would undo an effort to make voting harder for countless Floridians, including many of the 4.5 million Floridians who voted by mail in the 2020 election.
- Prevent the state’s onerous rule that requires voters to request mail ballots every two years. Instead, voters would remain on permanent mail voting lists unless they are no longer registered in the state or ask to be removed.
- Undo state law that limits the use of ballot drop boxes, which were used by 1.5 million Floridians in the 2020 election. The Freedom to Vote Act would require at least one drop box per jurisdiction and at least one drop box must be available 24 hours a day.
- Invalidate the state’s strict rules on provisional voting by allowing voters who show up mistakenly at an incorrect precinct within the county where they are registered to vote to cast a provisional ballot. Under the new state law, voters who mistakenly go to the wrong precinct will be turned away instead of being offered a provisional ballot in many cases. About 44 percent of provisional ballots cast in Georgia during the 2020 election were by people who accidentally showed up at the wrong precinct.
- Nullify state law that prohibits people from providing food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places.
- Prevent Georgia officials from removing and replacing local election officials without good cause.
- Block Texas from banning curbside voting. Curbside voting was heavily relied upon in heavily populated Harris County, where 10 percent of in-person early voters utilized curbside voting.
- Allow any voter to cast a ballot by mail and block Texas from requiring that mail voters provide strict identification to obtain or return a mail ballot.
- Block Texas from allowing poll observers to disrupt polling places, and instead require them to stay a reasonable distance away from voters and from ballots being counted.
- Nullify the state ban on ballot drop boxes and require them to be placed in each jurisdiction. Nationwide, 41 percent of people who voted by mail ballot used ballot drop boxes to return their ballot.
Read the column: “The Freedom to Vote Act Would Counteract State Laws That Undermine Elections” by Danielle Root, Michael Sozan, and Alex Tausanovitch
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