WASHINGTON, D.C.—Democrats in the House of Representatives passed the sweeping democracy reform bill H.R.1 on Wednesday, advancing the most ambitious elections legislation in a generation. The bill would establish automatic voter registration, require independent redistricting commissions to tackle gerrymandering, restrict dark money donations, expand absentee voting and much more. H.R.1 advanced along party lines, with a final vote of 220-210.
The Democrats’ sweeping reform bill would restore and strengthen American democracy in the wake of a tumultuous and disturbing four years. Republicans are already making their opposition to free and fair elections heard, with former President Trump attacking the legislation at length during last weekend’s CPAC conference.
H.R.1 now heads to the Senate for the second time, where then-Majority Leader McConnell previously blocked it in 2019.
LAST UPDATED: 11:05 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Democrats approved an amendment to H.R.1—the omnibus federal democracy reform bill—that seeks to shorten voter wait times to 30 minutes or less. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC-06) introduced the amendment, which asks the Election Assistance Commission to conduct a study on fair and equitable wait times. The amendment pays special attention to polling places in communities of color, ensuring equitable access to the ballot box. Democrats passed the amendment on Tuesday.
The goal of 30 minute wait times was established by the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration in 2014, after a study that showed longer wait times usually indicated functionality or administrative problems at a polling location. You can read Democracy Docket Founder Marc Elias’s proposal for how to achieve shorter wait times here. H.R.1 is expected to be voted on, with this amendment included, later today.
LAST UPDATED: 12:45 PM ET
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Republican-controlled Georgia House of Representatives passed HB 531 today, a bill that would rewrite the state’s election law and limit access to the vote. Opposed by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and voting rights advocates like Fair Fight Action, HB 531 would restrict the locations of ballot drop boxes, instate a new voter ID requirement for absentee voters, shorten the window for absentee ballot requests and returns, shorten runoff election times and more. The bill would also limit Sunday voting, a move that would particularly harm efforts such as “Souls to the Polls,” a get-out-the-vote initiative organized by Black churches to mobilize Black voters.
HB 531 advanced past the GA House Special Committee on Election Integrity last week. Protestors gathered outside the Georgia State Capitol over the last few days to oppose the bill, and Democrats made their opposition to HB 531 clear, with Rep. Carl Gilliard stating the legislation “rolls back the hands of time in reference to the level of voter suppression.”
The bill heads to the State Senate next, which is also considering two more restrictive voting bills this week.
LAST UPDATED: 5:00 PM ET
WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Supreme Court today rejected two petitions filed by Sidney Powell, the former lawyer for Trump’s re-election campaign who repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the 2020 election result in court. While still working for the Trump campaign, Powell promoted multiple unfounded conspiracy theories, including that the election had been stolen. She brought a slate of so-called “Kraken” lawsuits to court, which demanded that state election officials in key battleground states throw out the certified results based on a series of QAnon-associated conspiracy theories.
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected two of Powell’s petitions that disputed the 2020 election results in Arizona and Wisconsin. The Court denied the petitions with no further comment. These are the final two Kraken cases before the highest court.
Powell and her team had previously filed two additional Kraken-conspiracy lawsuits in Georgia and Michigan. Powell eventually voluntarily dropped the Georgia case after SCOTUS denied her team’s request for expedited review; the Court rejected review of the Michigan suit last week.
LAST UPDATED: 2:00 PM ET
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Georgia Senate Ethics Committee voted today to advance two more bills attacking voting rights and vote by mail. The bills would end automatic voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting in Georgia.
The first bill— SB 69—would stop the practice of automatically registering voters when they get their driver’s licenses. Instead, Georgians would have to affirmatively check a box to indicate that they want to register. The second bill—SB 71—would only allow people to vote absentee if they’re over 65, have a physical disability or are out of town. Currently, any registered Georgia voter can apply for and vote by mail.
These restrictive bills are just the latest in a flurry of suppressive legislation introduced by Republicans in Georgia and across the country. Last week, the Georgia Assembly proposed a similar elections bill that would also limit voting options and disenfranchise minority and young voters.
SB 69 and SB 71 were passed through committee on a party line vote. The bills could reach the full Senate as soon as next week.
LAST UPDATED: 6:30 PM ET
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Democrats in the Virginia Legislature passed the Virginia Voting Rights Act on Thursday. HB1890 is the first state-level Voting Rights Act in the South, and has been lauded by the Virginia NAACP as “an impenetrable shield of protection for the voting rights of Black Virginians and Virginians of color when enacted.”
The legislation would “prevent voter suppression tactics by requiring pre-approval of certain changes to election procedures, protecting voters from threats and intimidation at the polls, and allowing civil action as possible recourse,” according to the NAACP. It is designed to ensure no election law can be enacted in the state that would disproportionately abridge the rights of any protected class of Virginia citizens, making it a strong barrier against local efforts to suppress minority votes.
The bill now moves to Governor Northam’s desk, who is expected to sign it into law.
LAST UPDATED: 10:30 AM ET