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A Democracy Crisis in the Making

Overview

Across the country, state legislators are proposing and passing bills that would give partisan state legislators greater control over elections while hamstringing experienced state and local election administrators who have traditionally run our voting systems.

On April 22, 2021, Protect Democracy released a report outlining that at least 148 such bills, since publication, have been introduced in 36 states. The report titled Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Elections, was written with Law Forward and the States United Democracy Center.

Many of the bills would make elections more difficult to administer or even unworkable; make it more difficult to finalize election results; allow for election interference and manipulation by hyper-partisan actors; and, in the worst cases, allow state legislatures to overturn the will of the voters and precipitate a democracy crisis. If these bills had been in place in 2020, they would have significantly added to the turmoil of the post-election period, and raised the prospect that the outcome of the election would have been contrary to the popular vote.

American democracy relies on the losers of elections respecting the choice of voters and participating in a peaceful transition of power. If, instead, the losing party tries to override the will of the voters, that would be the death knell for our system of government. In short, these bills could unravel much of the progress we have made over centuries toward fairer, more open, more inclusive election processes. Our democracy deserves better.

Democracy Crisis in the Making: April 2021

In this April report, the States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward put a spotlight on the dangerous trend within the larger voter suppression landscape: many state legislatures are pursuing a strategy to politicize, criminalize, and interfere in election administration. This course of action threatens the foundations of fair, professional, and non-partisan elections.

For a PDF of the Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Elections report, click here.

Report Update: June 2021

In June 2021, the States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward released an update to their report, Democracy Crisis in the Making.

As of early June, there have been at least 216 bills introduced in 41 states that would interfere with election administration. The update spotlights two of the most alarming trends on the forefront right now in Arizona and Texas: criminalization of election administration and legislature-driven partisan reviews of settled elections.

For a PDF of the June update, click here.

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