Republican state lawmakers in three battleground states where President Biden narrowly edged Donald Trump in November’s presidential election are pushing to tighten voting restrictions on mail-in balloting in future contests.
The moves come after then-President Trump spent the eight months leading up to November’s general election slamming the push by scores of states to expand voting by mail due to health concerns over in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump continuously claimed that the moves would trigger voter fraud and result in a “rigged election.”
There was a surge across the country in early and mail-in voting during the election, with many of those ballots cast by Democrats. After his election defeat, Trump refused to concede to Biden and repeatedly claimed without providing concrete proof that there was “massive voter fraud” and the election was “stolen.”
Corey Lewandowski, a longtime close Trump adviser, told Fox News on Thursday the former president would be involved in “voting integrity” efforts going forward.
Now, with the new legislative sessions in statehouses across the country underway, GOP lawmakers in some states — Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania — are taking action.
This past week, a GOP state senator in Georgia, where the legislature is controlled by Republicans, introduced a bill that would require voters to provide a photo ID when requesting and returning their absentee ballot.
The introduction of the bill comes a month after the Republican caucus in the state Senate vowed to “reform our election laws to secure our electoral process by eliminating at-will absentee voting. We will require photo identification for absentee voting for cause, and we will crack down on ballot harvesting by outlawing drop boxes.”
Biden won Georgia by less than 12,000 votes out of nearly 5 million cast, becoming the first Democrat to carry the state in a presidential election in more than a quarter-century. The state became a focus of Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to upend Biden’s victory, with Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state refusing the then-president’s requests to decertify the election results.
Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who also pushed against Trump’s voter fraud allegations, said on Tuesday that he supports the new bill.
“I think the best step forward is for us to just look for an opportunity to create a photo ID process,” Duncan, who presides over the state Senate, told reporters. “I think that best fits the needs of 11 million Georgians, or at least the folks that are going to vote.”
Trump and his supporters also tried to reverse the election results in Arizona, where Biden won by just over 10,000 votes, becoming the first Democrat since 1996 to carry the state in the race for the White House. Like in Georgia, Republicans control the executive and legislative branches in Arizona.
A new bill introduced in the state legislature would repeal Arizona’s permanent early voting list. Voters on such lists automatically receive mail-in ballots for each primary and general election. A separate bill would kick from the list people who failed to vote in primary and general elections in two straight cycles.
Trump and his supporters also launched unsuccessful legal actions in Pennsylvania, where Biden won by just over 80,000 votes out of the nearly 7 million cast.
State GOP lawmakers there are pushing a bill that would repeal Pennsylvania’s 2019 no-excuse absentee voting law.
“During this past Presidential Election, we witnessed mass confusion and mail-in ballot irregularities and I know that my district office was not alone in getting unprecedented amounts of phone calls from concerned constituents about election fraud through this mail-in ballot system,” GOP state Rep. Michael Puskaric, a co-sponsor of the bill, wrote. “As representatives of the people, we must listen to the concerns of our constituents and act swiftly to make certain that future elections are safe, secure.”
Republicans control the legislature, but Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf would likely veto any bill passed by lawmakers. Pennsylvania has open gubernatorial and Senate contests next year.
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