GOP uses voters to push for election reforms in unfavorable states

Republicans have passed a variety of voting restrictions in the states they control, from Georgia to Texas to Iowa to Texas this year. They aren't stopping there.

GOP uses voters to push for election reforms in unfavorable states

Republicans in at most four states where Democrats control either the governor's office or the legislature -- California, Massachusetts and Michigan -- are seeking statewide ballot measures or veto-proof plans to enact voter identification restrictions and other changes.

Nebraska is another state where Republicans hold the governor's job and are the majority in the legislature. However, they are pushing for a voter ID ballot measure as they have not been able to get enough legislators on board.

Republicans claim they are seeking the changes in the name "election integrity" and use similar slogans, "easier vote, harder cheat." Democrats dismiss it because of former President Donald Trump's false allegations that widespread fraud cost him his election. They claim Republicans are trying to create distrust in elections to gain political advantage and are passing restrictions to prevent Democratic-leaning voters registering or casting their ballots.

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Gus Bickford (the Democratic Party chairman in Massachusetts) said, "It's depressing this is the way that Trump) wing(sic) of the Republican Party thinks that they have to win, rather than trying to win on issues and beliefs." They want to suppress the votes."

The Republican proposals all share a common thread: toughening voter ID requirements for both in-person as well as mail voting.

Republicans in Pennsylvania and Michigan are trying to bypass Democratic governors who have the power of the veto pen. Wisconsin Republicans claim they are also considering this strategy.

California and Massachusetts have Republicans in minority in both the legislative houses. In Republican-controlled Nebraska, the hang-up is an officially nonpartisan legislature where more liberal lawmakers can derail legislation that enjoys broad conservative support.

California and Massachusetts are not easy places to win voter approval, but it is possible in other states.

Carl DeMaio, Reform California's leader, stated that his group is seeking a ballot initiative in California because Democratic legislators will not take up his proposals.

DeMaio stated, "That would be them validating Donald Trump. And they have such hatred for Donald Trump that it's almost impossible to even acknowledge that there is a problem."

DeMaio stated that Trump's false claims of election fraud are unfounded. However, Trump's message resonates with those who, based on their personal experience, have doubts about the electoral system. For example, they received duplicate ballots at home.

Voter fraud is extremely rare and is usually caught by local elections offices.

Democrats claim that voter ID laws won't stop fraud. They claim that it will only force the elderly, disabled, and those who are not eligible for government-issued ID cards to go to unreasonable lengths to obtain them.

Trump's false claims that he stole the election were debunked by his Justice Department and scores more recounts. Courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court have ignored such claims. According to the government's cybersecurity agency, the 2020 presidential election was the most secure in U.S. History.

There has been no evidence that widespread election fraud was found in any state legislature. Even so, at least 10 Republican-controlled states have enacted laws so far this year that toughen voter ID or signature requirements or pare back opportunities to register to vote or cast a ballot.

It is not a new idea to put voter-related issues on statewide ballot.

California and Florida have restored the right of felons to vote in recent years. Michigan voters approved a constitutional amend in 2018 that allowed people to register on Election Day to request absentee ballots, without needing to provide a reason.

This year, Republicans are using the process to try and enact restrictions that they wouldn't be able to pass.

Republicans in California, Massachusetts, and Nebraska are trying to collect enough signatures to have their proposals included on the ballots for next year's general elections.

Michigan Republicans use an unusual provision of the state constitution to collect enough signatures for a petition that the GOP-controlled Legislature can adopt a voter ID bill.

The Michigan initiative would, among other things, prohibit the sending of mail-in ballot applications for people who didn't request them. Backers claimed it would cause confusion and mistrust in 2020.

Jamie Roe, a Republican strategist and campaign consultant with Secure MI Vote, stated that "Democratic leadership has lost touch with their voters."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (Democrat) is preparing to veto similar legislation. She told reporters this month that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud last year and that Republicans are just upset over Trump's loss.

"Our elections work. What if you don't like what the result is? Whitmer stated that if you don't like the outcome, you can run for office again and try to win people's votes.

In Pennsylvania, which allows no direct access to the ballot for citizen initiatives, the earliest the Republican-controlled Legislature could put its election changes on the ballot -- through a proposed constitutional amendment -- is 2023.

The Pennsylvania proposal is one of many that goes beyond voter ID changes.

Trump's allies are moving from state to state pushing for partisan reviews of the presidential election last year. The Pennsylvania measure would require that election results be audited annually by the state auditor general. The law would require that paper ballots be marked with a watermark, and open to public inspection after the election has been certified.

It is currently awaiting a vote in state House. This could be as soon as next week before it can move to the Senate. Republican Rep. Jeff Wheeland was the measure's sponsor. He stated that it would "give back to voters certainty" that their elections will be safe and secure. Eric Nelson, another Republican, stated that it would allow voters to "address what many believe is a frenzyof mistrust in the current election system."

Referring to Trump's defeat in the battleground, Malcolm Kenyatta, Democratic Rep., stated that the only reason this measure is being considered "is because some people are disappointed by the outcome of the election."

California's proposed initiative would require counties to do more to clean voter registration rolls, assess wait times for in person voting, and show how they will address "unreasonably lengthy" waits.

The Republican-backed ballot initiative was opposed by Nebraska groups Black Votes Matter (Nebraska) and the League of Women Voters (Nebraska).

John Cartier, Civic Nebraska's director of voting rights, stated that the initiative would be against Nebraska's constitutional protections regarding voting access. He stated that there has not been one conviction in Nebraska's history for voter impersonation.

Cartier stated that states like Arizona and Georgia have already passed tough voter ID laws, "and people don’t really trust their system there." "So, a voter ID law does not improve trust. It actually hurts it."

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