AuthorBerryhill, Nora-Kathleen

As GOP-controlled state legislatures across the country are systematically limiting marginalized voters' access to the polls (see "Smoking Gun," page 13), other state legislatures are pushing against this trend by passing laws to make the voting process more accessible--and more democratic.

According to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, between January 1 and December 7 of last year, a period during which thirty-four restrictive voting laws were passed in nineteen states, "at least twenty-five states enacted sixty-two expansive laws."

Here's a taste of the progressive voting practices and principles that states successfully implemented in 2021:

Expanding Early Voting and Vote-By-Mail Systems

California, Nevada, and Vermont all switched to entirely or primarily voteby-mail systems, which are already the norm in five other states: Washington, Colorado, Utah, Hawaii, and Oregon. Oregon was the first state to make the switch; it's been vote-by-mail-only since 2000.

Illinois established a permanent absentee voting list (which allows voters to receive ballots in the mail without the need to request one before each election), joining the ranks of six other states: Arizona, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, and Virginia.

Kentucky, which has a divided government--a GOP-led legislature and a Democratic governor--passed a law allowing for three days of early voting and an extended grace period for fixing signatures on mail-in ballots.

Widening Voter Eligibility

Washington, New York, and Connecticut passed laws automatically restoring voting eligibility to ex-felons after the completion of their prison sentences (as compared to after the completion of parole and/or probation). Eighteen other states have already adopted similar...

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