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States Will Now Take Up Voting Rights Fight

States Will Now Take Up Voting Rights Fight

https://twitter.com/marceelias/status/1484991657133105160

Now that voting rights legislation has stalled in Congress, Democratic activists are seeking alternative forms of legislating, and they’re increasingly looking to local ballot initiatives to allow voters to make political changes on their own.

Donald Trump’s hand-picked challengers are gaining momentum in their races, with Rep. Liz Cheney’s challenger proving to be more popular in Wyoming than previously thought. Harriet Hageman won 59 votes in a straw poll conducted by the Wyoming Republican State Central Committee, according to the Casper Star-Tribune. Cheney won six votes.

 (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo by LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images)

But efforts to expand democracy and create a more equal voting system are being met by opposition from Trump supporters in overwhelmingly red and purple states. Lawmakers and leaders there are working to make it harder to legislate through the referendum process.

Axios reports that in 2021, the progressive Ballot Initiative Strategy Center tracked 93 bills introduced by Republican state legislatures that would make passing ballot measures more difficult. Thirteen of those bills passed in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Arkansas, and South Dakota. So far this year, another 28 such bills already have been introduced by Republicans. Democrats, meanwhile, have introduced their own set of bills to create ballot processes in Kentucky and Wisconsin and expand access to voting in Florida, among other measures.

Over the past two decades, ballot initiatives have been used by Republicans in blue states to recall governors and ban same-sex marriage. More recently, they’ve been used by Democrats to expand Medicaid, legalize marijuana, raise the minimum wage and restore voting rights to people with felony convictions in states. In both cases, the referendum process has given voters a voice where their elected officials lacked legislative influence, writes Axios.

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Many Red states are implementing laws with nit-picking restrictions seemingly constructed arbitrarily just to make the voting process more difficult. Axios reports that in South Dakota, Trump-backed Governor Kristi Noem recently signed a law requiring signature petitions to be in 14-point font. That and requirements that petitions be on a single page has resulted in massive piles of signature papers and more pages that have to be flipped through to see the proposal in the bigger text. In Missouri, a proposed resolution would increase the number of signatures needed to put a measure to a statewide vote, and raise the threshold to approve an amendment from a simple majority to two-thirds. And in Arkansas, a new law bars canvassers from being paid for each signature they collect and requires them to be Arkansas residents and U.S. citizens. That’s also being challenged in court.

Read the full report at Axios.

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