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QuickTake

Here’s Where the Battle Over Voting Stands in U.S.

A demonstrator holds a sign reading "Pass the Freedom to Vote Act" during a protest at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.

A demonstrator holds a sign reading "Pass the Freedom to Vote Act" during a protest at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.

Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg
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A bedrock democratic institution, voting, continues to divide the two major U.S. political parties. States run by Republicans and states run by Democrats are increasingly diverging in their policies on registering to vote, voting in person and voting by mail. These state-by-state battles are a legacy of the 2020 presidential election and former President Donald Trump’s insistence, contrary to all evidence, that it was stolen from him and delivered to Joe Biden. Even the process of declaring which presidential candidate wins a state -- a mere formality, until Trump’s allegations fueled the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol on last January -- could wind up being manipulated for partisan gain.

Mainly in state capitals. In 2021, legislators in 19 states, the vast majority of them under full Republican control, enacted laws making it more difficult for people to register to vote, reducing opportunities to vote by mail or early in person, and tightening voter identification requirements, among other things, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. In 25 states, most of them under Democratic control, new laws make voting more expansive and less restrictive, according to the center. (Some states passed laws both restrictive and expansive.) More legislation has been proposed already this year.