A new report by the States United Democracy Center outlines the assault on democracy currently underway across this country. Immediately after the January 6th assault on the U.S. Capitol — an attack that had the intent of overturning the results of the 2020 election — at least 148 bills were filed that would allow state legislatures to politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections.
This trend has just gotten worse. At this time, legislatures in 33 states have introduced 229 bills that do the same thing — 175 introduced in this calendar year alone and 54 that rolled over from the last calendar year. 50 bills have been enacted, 32 last year and 18 this year.
The anti-democratic forces in our country have a strategy: spread lies, limit access to the ballot, get rid of trusted election officials, replace them with partisan actors, and change the way our elections are run.
Laying the groundwork to steal an election. pic.twitter.com/xWk8MZU6LL
— States United Democracy Center (@statesunited) May 27, 2022
The intent behind these anti-democracy bills is to strip power from non-partisan election administrators in an effort to subvert elections. Some of these bills are such so malicious in their authoritarian intent that they grant legislatures the power to declare an election winner that contradicts the will of voters. Measures include subjecting election results to partisan and biased audits, imposing onerous burdens on election administration like counting all ballots by hand, and even allowing lawmakers to reverse election results and install their own preferred candidates.
These bills are sloppily written as well. In Arizona, a proposal requires election officials to document voting irregularities that carry a criminal penalty without ever defining what that means exactly. Another bill in Oklahoma would establish an “Election Integrity Committee” made up of 20 people to review election results but doesn’t list the qualifications needed to be part of the committee.
These attacks on our democratic process are a reaction to Trump’s lies regarding election fraud in the 2020 cycle. They are a partisan power grab that serves two purposes: throwing red meat to primary base voters and consolidating power at the expense of a healthy democracy in this country. These bills are unconstitutional, undemocratic, and wrong. All Americans who care about fair elections should read this report and take action to stop their state lawmakers if they are engaging in these brazen and dangerous authoritarian maneuvers.
The groundwork is being laid now to steal the next election and is up to us to stop it.
Editor’s note: This column solely represents the author’s opinion.
Thomas Kennedy is an elected Democratic National Committee member representing Florida. He tweets from @tomaskenn.