Republicans, under fire from Democrats and major corporations for their nationwide push for new limits on voting, are defending their proposals as similar to or better for ballot access than the election laws some blue states already have on the books.
In statements and news conferences, Republican leaders have pointed to what they say is a double standard from Democrats and activists who say the bills — and Georgia’s newly enacted restrictions, in particular — are attempts to suppress the votes of the multiracial coalition that powered President Joe Biden’s victory last year.
In several cases, the Republicans are right. Some traditionally Democratic states, including big ones like New York, do have longstanding policies that advocates say are anti-voter. And some red states employ best practices to promote voter access. The difference is that many of the blue states have been moving to liberalize access to the ballot, while states like Georgia and Texas are actively moving in the other direction.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, said Tuesday that his state already offers more early voting days than a number of other states where Democrats control both legislative chambers, as well as the governor’s mansion.
But Texas’ GOP-controlled Legislature is considering massive packages of bills that would limit early voting options, affect how polling stations are allocated and add penalties for mistakes officials make in the election process. While nothing has landed on Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk just yet, Fort Worth-based American Airlines and Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies, which is outside Austin, have already spoken out.
“So if, somehow, we’re accused of being racist because we want to suppress the vote of the people of color, I guess New York, New Jersey and Delaware are even more racist,” Patrick said during a news conference, defending one of the bills.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made a similar argument Monday, saying the same companies criticizing red state bills have overlooked problems elsewhere.
“Wealthy corporations have no problem operating in New York, for example, which has fewer days of early voting than Georgia, requires excuses for absentee ballots and restricts electioneering via refreshments,” he said. “There is no consistent or factual standard being applied here. It’s just a fake narrative gaining speed by its own momentum.”
It’s an argument that’s gaining steam on the right. After the mayor of Denver announced that the city would host the Major League Baseball All-Star Game — MLB withdrew from the original host city, Atlanta, in protest of Georgia’s new law — some Republicans claimed that Colorado’s voter ID requirement was similar to Georgia’s, which is considered one of the strictest laws in the country.
Advocates acknowledge that there is still work to do in several Democratic states.
“It doesn’t have to be a partisan thing, ‘but New York?’ A lot of election advocates respond, ‘Yeah — and — New York,'” said Justin Levitt, an election law expert and professor at Loyola Law School at Loyola Marymount University in California, who worked at the Justice Department during the…