21:59 GMT24 February 2021
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    Mail-in ballots became a hotly debated topic in the November election, with President Donald Trump warning for months that he could not guarantee a smooth transition of power if he saw evidence of fraud using the ballots. After the election, Trump accused Democrats of using late-night vote dumps in key states to swing results in Joe Biden’s favour.

    Republican lawmakers in three battleground states have sponsored legislation to tighten up the security of mail-in ballots ahead of the 2022 midterms and the 2024 race.

    Arizona

    In Arizona, the traditionally deep Red state that went Blue for Biden in November, one group of legislators has introduced a bill which would eliminate permanent early voting rolls, thus forcing voters to request a ballot instead of being provided one automatically by mail each election.

    A separate bill, proposed by Republican state senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, calls for the removal of voters from the permanent rolls if they don’t vote for two consecutive cycles in a row, and do not respond to a notice warning them that they will be taken off the rolls if they don’t respond. The lawmaker told CNN that the state legislature is also looking at making it a requirement for voters to get their mail-in ballots in before Election Day.

    Armed Trump supporters at a protest now at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office in Phoenix Arizona
    Armed Trump supporters at a protest now at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office in Phoenix Arizona

    Georgia

    In Georgia, the swing state which carried out three gruelling recounts, each one whittling away at Biden’s lead due to "glitches" in voting machines and other irregularities, lawmakers led by GOP Senator Jason Anavitarte are proposing making it necessary for voters to provide photocopies of valid photo ID when applying for and returning absentee ballots. If approved, the bill would apply to absentee ballots the same standard already used during in-person voting. The bill provides exemptions for service members, their family and US citizens living overseas.

    Recently elected Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff, who defeated his Republican opponent by less than 55,000 votes in a runoff race earlier this month, blasted the legislation, describing it as an attempt at “voter suppression” and promising to work with allies to stop it from passing.

    Republicans had previously blasted state election rules over a provision allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were spoiled to "submit corrections" until two days after the vote.

    Georgia’s Republican Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, who rejected Trump’s attempts to challenge the results of the November vote, expressed support for the voter ID idea, telling reporters last week that the idea was “the best step forward” and one that “fits the needs of 11 million Georgians, or at least the folks that are going to vote.”

    Trump faced off against Georgia’s GOP establishment after the 2020 election, calling Governor Brian Kemp a “clown” and a “fool” and claiming that he had been “played” by Democratic operatives, and alleging that he won the state handily.

    Pennsylvania

    Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are also looking to modify election laws, with one bill proposing the repeal of a no-excuse absentee voting amendment passed in 2019. The bill’s cosponsor, State Representative Jim Gregory, says the bill is aimed at preventing a repeat of the kind of “confusion” and “lack of faith in how things were run” in the wake of the 2020 election. The proposal is one of over a dozen similar proposals being put forth in the state.

    Overall, 28 states have already introduced, pre-filed, or plan to introduce over 100 bills to limit vote-by-mail access, impose stricter voter ID requirements, impose tighter voter registration policies or all for a purge of voter rolls.

    The battlegrounds aren’t the only states where stricter rules have been proposed, with Mississippi and New York legislators proposing a proof of citizenship request to be able to register to vote, and South Carolina legislatures mulling a signature matching requirement for absentee ballots.

    Trump spent nearly two months challenging the results of the November 2020 election, citing alleged fraud ranging from large-scale mail-in ballot dumps in the dead of night to voting machines being programmed to vote Biden. The president claimed that his election team had “hundreds and hundreds” of sworn affidavits and “thousands” of witness testimonies to back up his allegations.

    However, his claims have not stood up in any state or federal court. Joe Biden, the Democratic Party, Democrat-leaning media and tech companies dismissed the fraud claims, with the latter eventually banning Trump from their platforms over his alleged "incitement" of a crowd of angry supporters who stormed the Capitol building on 6 January.

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