Lawmakers in battleground states attempt to rollback pre-election changes ahead of 2022

Legislatures in several battleground states Donald Trump won in 2016 but lost in 2020 are making efforts to rollback pre-election changes to voting rules some lawmakers say contributed to legal challenges and chaos in the months following Election Day.

“The efforts come after [a] historically chaotic election process that has left millions of Americans doubtful of election fairness, security, transparency and accountability,” Just the News reported Monday, citing the legislative efforts.

Most of the changes to voting rules were made without the input of legislatures and based on fears of spreading COVID-19. Secretaries of state, governors and state courts approved measures such as dramatically expanding mail-in voting and early balloting, extending deadlines to receive ballots, and relaxing voter identification and verification measures.

Many of the changes were detailed in a revealing Time magazine report published in early February which described how a “cabal of powerful people” launched a “shadow campaign” that included getting “states to change voting systems and laws,” among other measures.

Those and other changes “likely contributed to a record 158,000,000-plus votes cast” last fall, Just the News reported, though “the relaxation of various voting requirements has also led to significant distrust in the election system.” The outlet noted further that recent polling indicates some 40 percent of voters believe the election system is fraudulent and that those issues have yet to be sufficiently addressed by officials.

In Georgia, the Senate has passed legislation requiring voters to submit “photocopies of voter identification documents for absentee ballot applications,” thereby eliminating the present system of matching signatures, which critics have said is a recipe for abuse and fraud. They have also railed against Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision last year to agree to demands by left-wing activist groups including one operated by Stacey Abrams to make it more difficult to reject signatures under dispute.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislature has indicated members may seek to repeal a law, Act 77, which is known as a “no-excuse” mail-in system that was implemented in 2019.

In a memorandum last month, state Sens. Patrick Stefano and Doug Mastriano said they “intend to introduce legislation repealing the no-excuse mail-in ballot provisions” contained in Act 77.

“By removing the provisions of law that allow for no-excuse mail-in ballots, we can regain some trust in our elections’ integrity,” they wrote.

In the Pennsylvania House, Rep. Dan Moul said he wants to standardize within the law “the only legal ways for a voter to utilize the vote by mail system,” which would include sending ballots only through the mail or by hand-delivering them to voting officials.

In Arizona, GOP majorities are considering legislation that would make it a felony for voting officials to send ballots to anyone not currently on early voting lists in the state, as a means of preempting changes ahead of 2022.

“Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes last March attempted to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter there, though he was ordered by a court to cease shortly before doing so,” Just the News reported.

Following the November election, the Trump campaign, along with Republican lawmakers in some battleground states, filed lawsuits alleging that voting changes authorized by secretaries of state and state courts were unconstitutional. Those suits argued that under Article II of the Constitution, only state legislatures are authorized to change voting laws.

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Jon Dougherty

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