As Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has falsely stated that “the big lie on the other side is that state legislatures controlled by Republicans are busily at work trying to make it difficult for people to vote,” according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center, Republican-led state legislators across the country have been pursuing and passing legislation that would dramatically restrict voting, putting our Democracy at risk.
ONE YEAR AGO, SENATOR MCCONNELL ACKNOWLEDGED THAT DONALD TRUMP’S BIG LIE WAS THE CAUSE OF THE INSURRECTION
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We have never been deterred before and we will not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.” [Floor Remarks, 1/6/21]
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “The last time the Senate convened, we had just reclaimed the Capitol from violent criminals who tried to stop Congress from doing our duty. This mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the President and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.” [Floor Remarks, 1/19/21]
NOW, AS REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS ACROSS THE COUNTRY USE THE BIG LIE TO SUBVERT OUR DEMOCRACY, SENATOR MCCONNELL TRIES TO GASLIGHT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “There’s been a lot of talk about Big Lies, well the big lie on the other side is that state legislatures controlled by Republicans are busily at work trying to make it difficult for people to vote. If you actually read the legislation that’s been passed it’s clearly not the case. So, I think this is an excuse to try to break the Senate.” [Press Conference, 1/4/22]
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “The political left keeps pitching their Big Lie that mainstream state voting laws are somehow ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ if the Governor who signs the bill happens to be a Republican. the left’s Big Lie insults the intelligence of the American people. All the facts disprove it.” [Floor Remarks, 1/4/22]
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “This Big Lie — that democracy is dying because Democrats sometimes lose elections — is a completely astro-turfed sense of crisis. The emperor has no clothes.” [Floor Remarks, 1/4/22]
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “They’re continuing this fixation with what I call the Democratic big lie that states are involved in changing their voting laws to make it more difficult for people to vote.” [Hugh Hewitt Radio Show, 12/22/21]
Senator McConnell refuses to defend these laws but Republicans across the country fueled by Donald Trump’s Big Lie are restricting the right to vote and laying the foundation to subvert our democracy.
According to the Brennan Center, “Between January 1 and December 7, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. More than 440 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.”
From the Brennan Center:
Arizona legislatures passed three restrictive voting bills this year, and they have pre-filed at least one bill that would restrict voting access by imposing stricter identification requirements. Additionally, state legislators introduced three bills in 2021 that would have directly empowered partisan officials to reject or overturn election results. The state also conducted an infamous partisan election review this year, when it contracted a third party to audit Maricopa County’s 2020 election results. Despite no evidence of fraud, the review has drummed up false rhetoric around voter fraud and galvanized public officials to push for restrictive voting legislation.
Georgia passed S.B. 202, a restrictive omnibus law that criminalizes passing out water to voters waiting in line. The law also politicizes the state’s board of elections and grants the board new powers to remove professional election officials and seize control of election administration in specific jurisdictions, which could lead to partisan influence in the election certification process. Moreover, partisan actors sought to review the election results in Fulton County because of false allegations of fraud, despite the fact that state election officials conducted a statutory audit that led to a full hand count along with two machine counts.
Georgia has high-profile elections for secretary of state and governor in 2022. One candidate for secretary of state has repeated false fraud claims and voted not to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, while two candidates for governor have explicitly stated that they would not have certified the results of the 2020 election had they been in office at the time.
Michigan’s legislature passed — but the governor vetoed — three restrictive voting bills; 15 restrictive bills are carrying over into the 2022 legislative session; and the state has a gubernatorial race next year.
Additionally, partisan actors have turned to a ballot initiative to pass restrictive measures to bypass both the governor and the people. Due to a quirk of the Michigan Constitution, if a ballot initiative garners the required number of signatures of support (340,047), the legislature gets a chance to pass it in its own right. This means the majority of Michigan voters never get an opportunity to vote on the initiative, and the governor has no power to veto such an initiative if the legislature passes it.
Anti-voting activists are currently organizing a restrictive ballot initiative that would, among other things, eliminate the ability for voters who lack a voter identification to cast a regular ballot; require voters to put the last four digits of their Social Security number on their voter registration; require voters to provide their driver’s license number, state ID card number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number on absentee ballot applications; and prohibit either the secretary of state or local election officials from affirmatively sending absentee ballot application forms to voters. The number of signatures required to give the green light for the Michigan Legislature to roll back the voting rights of millions of Michiganders — unchecked by the governor or voters — is fewer than the actual number of votes separating the two major candidates in the state’s last gubernatorial election.
In one Michigan county, a partisan group was given access to voting machines to review the 2020 election results, despite the fact that Michigan has a robust, accurate risk-limiting audit system already in place. And lawmakers introduced a bill that would have allowed a member of a county board of canvassers to rescind their vote to certify the results of an election — which is exactly what President Trump sought in Wayne County after the 2020 election.
Pennsylvania’s legislature passed one wide-ranging restrictive bill this year, which the governor vetoed. Thirty restrictive bills are carrying over into the 2022 legislative session. The state also has a gubernatorial race next year. Four of the restrictive carryover bills are constitutional amendment proposals that would enable state legislators to get restrictive voting laws on the books without the governor’s review. (These proposals would need majority approval by the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 state legislatures, and then majority approval from voters).
Further, officials in one rural Pennsylvania county agreed to a questionable partisan review of their 2020 election results by a private security firm with no previous experience auditing elections and funded by Sidney Powell, a Trump-affiliated attorney who pursued unsuccessful post-election lawsuits based on debunked conspiracy theories. A Pennsylvania state senator who was present at Capitol Hill during the January 6 insurrection has since used the “results” of this questionable review to push for further restrictive voting legislation.
Texas passed S.B. 1 this year, one of the harshest restrictive voting bills in the country. The law makes it harder for voters with disabilities and language access barriers to obtain assistance, constrains election workers’ ability to stop harassment by poll watchers, and bans 24-hour and drive-thru voting, among other measures.
Texas legislators also introduced legislation this year that would have provided for the overturning of election results and that explicitly called for third party forensic reviews of the election results. Even without authorizing legislation, the secretary of state’s office launched an unnecessary audit into the 2020 election in four Texas counties. Even though routine audits had already occurred, documents published by the secretary of state’s office would allow for a manual count of votes in those counties, as well as an examination of other election records and voter lists.
Wisconsin’s legislature passed two restrictive voting bills this year, which the governor vetoed. Thirteen restrictive bills are carrying over into the 2022 legislative session, and the state has a gubernatorial race next year.
Wisconsin has also initiated an “investigation” into the 2020 election results. The effort lacks transparency, fairness, and credibility, and is being staffed by a well-known partisan operative with a prior history of spreading false claims of election fraud.
Missouri, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have each pre-filed at least one voting bill that would restrict access to the vote, as well as bills that would initiate or allow for partisan reviews of election results in 2022. Missouri also introduced legislation this past session that would have empowered partisan officials to overturn election results.
Florida and Tennessee have each pre-filed bills that would initiate partisan reviews of the 2020 election results in 2022.