WASHINGTON (AP) — Heading into this year’s midterms, voting rights groups were concerned that restrictions in Republican-leaning states triggered by false claims surrounding the 2020 election might jeopardize access to the ballot box for many voters.
Those worries did not appear to come true. There have been no widespread reports of voters being turned away at the polls, and turnout, while down from the last midterm cycle four years ago, appeared robust in Georgia, a state with hotly competitive contests for governor and U.S. Senate.
The lack of broad disenfranchisement isn’t necessarily a sign that everyone who wanted to vote could; there’s no good way to tell why certain voters didn’t cast a ballot.
Voter advocacy groups promoted voter education campaigns and modified voting strategies as a way to reduce confusion and get as many voters to cast a ballot as possible.
“We in the voting rights community in Texas were fearing the worst,” said Anthony Gutierrez, director of Common Cause Texas, on Wednesday. “For the most part, it didn’t happen.”
False claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump undermined public confidence in elections and prompted Republican officials to pass new voting laws. The restrictions included tougher ID requirements for mail voting, shortening the period for applying for and returning a mailed ballot, and limiting early voting days and access to ballot drop boxes.
There is no evidence there was widespread fraud or other wrongdoing in the 2020 election.
An estimated 33 restrictive voting laws in 20 states were in effect for this year’s midterms, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The most high-profile and sweeping laws were passed in Georgia, Florida, Iowa and Texas. Arizona also passed new voting rules, but those were largely put on hold this year or will take effect later.
Of the four states with major voting law changes in effect, a preliminary analysis shows a decline in turnout among registered voters in Florida, Iowa and Texas, while Georgia turnout declined slightly. Several factors can affect turnout, including voter enthusiasm and bad weather.
In Texas, the bumbling rollout of new voting restrictions in the state’s March primary resulted in officials throwing out nearly 23,000 mailed ballots as confused voters struggled to navigate new ID requirements.
But preliminary reports after Tuesday’s election showed rejection rates reverting to closer to more normal levels, which election officials attributed to outreach and mail voters figuring out the new rules. …read more