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Voting restrictions interfere with fair elections

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Recent legislation by Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country that restricts people’s rights to vote is morally disgusting and goes against every American’s basic freedoms.

As of March 24, there have been a total of 361 bills that limit voting in some way in 47 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

On March 25, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed one such bill into law. The law limits where ballot drop off locations can be located, limits the hours drop off boxes remain open, and makes it a crime to offer food or water to people waiting in line to vote, among other other things.

Republicans in Florida attempted to add a similar provision in House Bill 7040, which would have made it illegal to give voters anything, including food and water, but quickly revised the bill after backlash. The bill still seeks to add limitations to drop off boxes and requires voters to apply to vote by mail more frequently.

All of these bills are all meant to do a single thing – restrict votes from younger voters, lower income working voters and voters of color, who have all been shown to be more likely to support Democratic candidates.

However, these efforts to wrongly restrict voting can all be stopped through the passage of HR1, titled the For the People Act, in Congress.

HR1 most notably will require chief election officials in each state to establish an automatic voter registration system and guarantees voters same-day registration at early voting sites or at precincts on election day. If signed into law, voters will have at least 15 days of early voting in federal elections with 10 hours of voting a day, with some hours before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. HR1 also seeks to limit gerrymandering by requiring states to use independent commissions to approve newly drawn congressional districts.

The bill was passed in the House with a 220-210 vote on March 3, and will be moving to the Senate for a vote.

Other legislative pushback against voter suppression includes the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores the requirement for prior federal approval on changes on voting rules and practices that could be discriminatory.

Limiting the right or access to vote is anti-democratic and it will not stand in 2021. Legislation like the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act need to be passed and signed into law to ensure fair and just elections, no matter the outcome.

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