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Every State, Every Vote: As Republicans Launch Attack on Voting Rights, Democratic Governors Continue to Fight for Free and Fair Elections

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After losing both the White House and the Senate in 2020, state level Republicans are planning a power grab to tighten election rules and make it more difficult for Americans to vote. In legislatures across the country, lawmakers in 33 states have filed at least 165 restrictive bills to make it more difficult to cast a ballot, over four times the number at this time last year.

Leading the nation in voter suppression legislation is Arizona, where legislators are attempting to ram through nineteen bills aimed at limiting voting rights. A coalition of voting rights groups warned on Tuesday that Arizona Republicans are launching a “full-scale assault” on democracy. Lawmakers are proposing eliminating no-excuse absentee voting, making it harder to obtain an absentee ballot, enacting more stringent voter ID requirements, shortening deadlines for returning ballots, and even allowing the state legislature to overturn the results of a presidential election should they not like the outcome.

Republicans in other states are following Arizona’s lead – proposed bills in Mississippi and Wisconsin would end the practice of giving all electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the statewide vote and instead award electoral votes based on Congressional districts, which happen to be gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.

And in Georgia, which went for Biden and elected two Democratic Senators, Republican leaders have filed eight bills aimed at suppressing voter turnout and disenfranchising communities of color. In the November 2020 election, voter turnout in Georgia was more than 74%, mostly due to early voting by Black Georgians, up 40% from 2016.

In states with Republican legislative majorities like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, and more, the last line of defense against these dangerous, anti-democratic proposals are Democratic governors.

In Pennsylvania for example, Gov. Tom Wolf stands in the way of Republican proposals to abolish no-excuse absentee voting and institute voter ID laws meant to specifically harm communities of color. The Republican sponsor of the bill has pushed lies about our election, claimed Biden’s win is illegitimate, and spent thousands of dollars transporting protestors to the January 6th insurrection. 

Read more about the some of the work Democratic governors are doing to fight for every voice to be heard and every vote to be counted below:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom
California to Mail All Voters Ballots for November ElectionGov. Gavin Newsom of California on Friday ordered ballots to be sent to the state’s 20.6 million voters for the November election, becoming the first state to alter its voting plans for the general election in response to the public health concerns wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis
Polis signs bill to improve Colorado’s nation-leading universal vote by mail systemGov. Jared Polis today signed into law a bill to improve Colorado’s nation-leading vote by mail system. The bill signed today, HB20-1313, will improve the process for updating registration applications and records to ensure new ballots are sent within an appropriate timeline. It will permit a voter to get a replacement ballot if their ballot is destroyed, spoiled or not received for any reason if the voter requests a new ballot at least eight days before the election. 

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont
Gov. Ned Lamont, Democrats back absentee ballots for all Connecticut votersGov. Ned Lamont and the Democratic leaders of the state legislature are backing changes to Connecticut’s absentee ballot law that would allow all eligible voters to vote absentee in November as states across the country rush to expand voting by mail due to the coronavirus.

Delaware Gov. John Carney
Early voting among bills Gov. Carney signs as 2019 legislative session endsEarly voting is now law in Delaware, but it won’t go into effect until 2022. Gov. John Carney (D) signed the legislation sponsored by State Rep. David Bentz (D-Bear) Sunday.  It allows people to vote up to 10 days before an election, including the weekend before. Carney says he hopes it will increase the number of people who vote.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige
Ige Signs All-Mail Voting, Automatic Recount BillsGov. David Ige signed into law Tuesday afternoon bills establishing an all-mail voting system starting with the 2020 elections along with others mandating automatic recounts in close races. He also signed a bill that allows for ballots to be electronically transmitted for voters with special needs.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker
5 million Illinois voters to receive mail-in ballot applications after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs temporary vote-by-mail expansionRoughly 5 million Illinois voters will receive applications to vote by mail for the November election as a result of legislation Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Tuesday aimed at encouraging mail-in voting amid the ongoing pandemic.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly

Governor signs bill making voting more convenient in KansasGovernor Laura Kelly has signed a new bill she says makes voting more convenient in Kansas. […] The new law amends the law concerning advance ballots, signature requirements and polling places. Her office says it will expand and improve voting opportunities.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear
Gov. Andy Beshear restores voting rights to more than 140,000 nonviolent Kentucky felonsKentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday signed an executive order to automatically restore the right to vote to more than 140,000 convicted felons with completed sentences, cutting down one of the nation’s highest rates of voter disenfranchisement.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards signs law restoring felon voting rights after five yearsSome 2,000 felons in Louisiana will have their voting rights restored in March, after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law Thursday a measure that allows people who have been out of prison for five years but remain on probation or parole to register to vote.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills
Maine governor signs automatic voter registration bill into lawGov. Janet Mills on Wednesday signed an automatic voter registration bill into law. Maine joins at least 17 states that automatically register voters. Maine will automatically register voters who do business with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles by 2022 under the bill, which has a one-time cost of $140,000 in federal funds.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Mich. Gov. Whitmer signs bill allowing more time to process absentee ballots prior to election dayMichigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill Tuesday which gives some communities extra time to begin processing absentee ballots for the November general election. 

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz
Walz Pushes For Voting Restoration, Ending ‘Warrior’ TrainingWalz’s office says they want to end “the disenfranchisement of over 50,000 Minnesotans.”
“Those who are not serving a sentence in a prison facility – who are in their communities and contributing to their families and rebuilding their lives – must be provided their right to vote, regardless of supervision status.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper
Gov. Cooper signs bill addressing fall election under COVID-19Gov. Roy Cooper has signed into law legislation providing money to help run North Carolina elections safely and securely during the COVID-19 pandemic and making it easier to cast mail-in absentee ballots this fall. The governor signed the bill on Friday, the day after the House and Senate gave final legislative approval to the bipartisan measure.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy
New Jersey will send ballots to all active registered voters for November election, governor saysNew Jersey will conduct its general election mostly by mail because of the coronavirus pandemic, sending ballots to active registered voters while also providing the option to vote in person, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Friday.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
Governor signs voting, civil rights billsGov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed three pieces of legislation from the special session into law Friday, including bills aimed at streamlining voting during the novel coronavirus pandemic, creating a civil rights commission and putting money back in the state’s coffers. The election reform, which passed with bipartisan support in the Senate and along party lines in the House, will allow county clerks to automatically send absentee ballot applications to registered voters.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak
Nevada Gov. Sisolak signs bill allowing mail-in voting amid pandemicOn Monday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 4, that would allow for mail-in ballots for the November 3, 2020 General Election. The move was made to protect the safety on Nevadans by providing a remote voting option during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Will Allow Voters to Cast Mail-In BallotsNew York State will allow most voters to cast their ballots by mail in the November general election, joining a growing list of states that have expanded mail-in voting to address the potential spread of the coronavirus at polling places.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown
Voting and Campaign Reforms Signed Into Law in Oregon: It just got easier to vote in Oregon, with new laws being signed Friday making it free to mail in ballots, requiring campaign ads to say who paid for them and making political organizations identify their largest donors. 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf
Gov. Wolf’s 2021 Agenda: COVID Relief, Legal Pot, Election ReformElection reforms Wolf is backing include allowing pre-canvassing of ballots before Election Day to increase the speed and efficiency of counting ballots; legislation that would permit same-day voter registration and strengthening voter intimidation restrictions.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo
Raimondo signs automatic voter registration bill into law: Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an automatic voter registration bill into law on Tuesday morning, making Rhode Island the ninth state to enact similarly aimed legislation.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam
Virginia governor makes Election Day a holiday and expands early votingVirginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Sunday that he signed a series of new measures into law aimed at expanding access to voting in the commonwealth. The new legislation will establish Election Day as a holiday, remove the requirement that voters show a photo ID prior to casting a ballot and, expand early voting to be allowed 45 days before an election without a stated reason.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
Automatic Voter Registration Part of Voting Package Signed by Washington GovernorSurrounded by legislators, election officials and students from Foster High School in Tukwila, Gov. Jay Inslee signed five bills from the recent session that make Washington one of the most progressive states for voter access.

Starting in July 2019, Washington residents who are American citizens will be automatically registered to vote when they apply for or change their address on an enhanced driver’s license or identification card. Unlike regular driver’s license, an enhanced license or ID requires proof of citizenship.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
Gov. Tony Evers Approves Poll Access Protections For Voters With DisabilitiesGov. Tony Evers signed over 30 bills into law this week, including a measure to make voting more accessible to people with disabilities. State voting rules require people to state their name and address at a polling place before they can vote. Now, there’s an exception for people with speech-affecting disabilities, who can use written identification instead. An election official or a trusted person could also say the voter’s name and address for them.