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Election bills surge nationwide as 47 states consider restrictions

New measures limiting access have been signed into law in Georgia, Iowa, Arkansas and Utah.
Image: Arizona mail-in vote
A voter deposits her mail-in ballot at a ballot collection box in Phoenix on Oct. 18.Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images file

Lawmakers introduced 108 restrictive voting bills in less than five weeks this spring, according to an analysis of the scope and momentum of election limits being considered across the country.

By March 24, lawmakers had introduced 361 restrictive election bills in 47 legislatures, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which has been tracking the legislation. That's 108 more than in the center's last count, on Feb. 19, a 43 percent increase.

Former President Donald Trump's stolen election lie has inspired an avalanche of election-related bills nationwide. By all accounts, the 2020 election was secure and the results were accurate. Trump's attorney general William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and Trump's legal efforts to overturn the results failed in courtrooms around the country.

But that hasn't stopped states from reducing access to the ballot box.

Five restrictive election bills have already been signed into law, including Georgia's omnibus measure last week. The Georgia law prompted outrage from activists and put a spotlight on similar legislation around the country. Wednesday, dozens of Black business leaders publicly urged corporations to oppose voting restrictions, and the Atlanta-based businesses Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines publicly called the state's law "unacceptable."

Georgia isn't alone: Iowa's governor signed a bill last month that makes early voting harder. Arkansas also passed two bills tightening voter ID rules, while Utah passed a bill that the Brennan Center says will make faulty purges more likely.

At least 55 restrictive bills are advancing through 24 state legislatures, the center said; 29 bills have passed at least one chamber.

Most of the bills target mail voting, which was expanded last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. A quarter of the restrictions seek tighter ID requirements, and others aim to make voter registration harder or to expand voter roll purges.

Texas, Georgia and Arizona lead the country for restrictive election proposals.

A number of expansive proposals also are being considered.

According to the analysis, 843 bills with expansive provisions have been introduced in a different set of 47 states. That's up from 704 bills six weeks ago.

Nine expansive bills have passed both chambers and are awaiting signature, while 41 bills have passed one chamber.