These Are the Craziest Bills Republicans Came up With in 2023!
This year, all 99 legislative chambers and more than 7,000 state legislators met to enact their own legislative agendas. As lawmakers are free to introduce new bills or any given topic they prefer, their passage is still not guaranteed.
As a matter of fact, the vast majority of proposals don’t even make any progress in the legislative process. Bills might get stalled in the committee, fail in a vote on a chamber’s floor, or even get vetoed by the governor.
However, surveying the entire range of bills, even the ones that aren’t ultimately enacted, could oftentimes show legislative energy and interest among lawmakers. As the GOP becomes more extreme as the years go by, especially when it comes to its attacks against free and fair elections, their energy seems to be channeled into crafting legislation.
From banning polling locations at K–12 public schools all the way to eliminating one-person, one-vote, GOP legislators from all corners of the country introduced some of the most shocking bills this year.
Luckily, none of these bills actually passed the first stage of the legislative process. But just the fact they were introduced in the first place can tell a lot about the Republican Party, which didn’t cease to become increasingly riddled with election conspiracies.
The GOP Party wants to change how ballots are counted, targeting electronic voting machines.
Last year, Cochise County in Arizona made headlines when officials tried to hand count ballots in the midterm elections as a response to unfounded conspiracy theories regarding voting machines. Shasta County, California, seems to be trying something similar for next year’s general election.
However, efforts to ban voting machines and hand-count ballots aren’t confined to isolated rural counties. Republican legislators in some states tried mandating the hand counting of all the ballots, which also included Kansas, Missouri, Montana, South Carolina, and Texas.
These bills are generally passed on a faulty premise: that voting machines are very easy to manipulate and less accurate than manually counting ballots. What none of these legislators understood is that what’s happening is actually the opposite: hand-counting ballots could lead to even more errors.
The hand-counting process could also take tremendous resources, both in terms of time and money. It took a small county in Nevada no less than seven hours to count only 317 votes last year. Moreover, Shasta County’s election director roughly calculated that hand-counting its ballots could take a minimum of 1300 staff members and $1,651,209.68 to implement.
A bargain, right? And here’s another thing: if that’s what it takes to count ballots in smaller cities, can you imagine how long it would take in states like Texas, where more than 10 million votes were cast in 2020?
Other Republicans introduced modifications to the counting process that might seriously jeopardize voters’ right to have their ballots counted. In Connecticut, a bill might have limited the counting of mail-in ballots only to Election Day, which might have potentially left some votes uncounted.
On a similar note, a bill in Montana might have required all ballot counting to be fully completed within only three hours, which is a requirement many counties couldn’t meet. Moreover, probably the most horrific intrusion into the ballot counting process was a bill in Iowa that targeted requiring monitors from both political parties to sign off on every single ballot before they’re counted.
Objections from such monitors would have left plenty of ballots uncounted, creating chaos everywhere. In fact, even if there were no objections, it would’ve still been difficult to find monitors for every polling place in the state.
Most radically, in North Carolina, one bill would’ve changed how much votes matter, altering a well-known precedent in how we actually conduct elections. The proposal would have eliminated one-person, one-vote for the state Senate.
This would’ve given rural voters far more influence in state affairs than urban ones. Mecklenburg and Wake Counties, both home to more than one million people, would have had the same number of state senators as Tyrell County, home to only 2,000.
Other legislators tried to usurp power over elections.
There are some states where Republicans introduced a few measures that would’ve increased their power over elections. For instance, Missouri and Texas both had bills targeting bifurcating elections, with entirely different registration lists and ballots between federal and state elections.
Proposals in both states were meant to circumvent Congress’ ability to regulate federal elections. Instead of allowing state elections to conform to federal rules, these lawmakers decided to keep state elections completely separate just to maintain their control.
Bifurcating elections in such a way would create a lot of logistical difficulties for election officials and even confuse voters, making both voting and election administration even more complicated.
In the meantime, a proposal in Montana purported to give the state legislature the ultimate authority over what laws are constitutional, not the state Supreme Court, as it usually goes in our legal system.
The resolution echoed the arguments of the fringe independent state legislature theory, which describes that the state legislature has special authority to set election laws for federal elections. However, this resolution goes even further, asserting the legislature’s power in all areas, not only for elections.
Schools and voting don’t mix, according to the Republicans.
Public schools are generally used for polling locations all over the country. They are large, easy to access, and generally well-known to local communities. However, some Republicans have decided that we shouldn’t allow voting there.
Bills in New Jersey, New York, and Texas might have banned placing polling locations in public schools, removing a convenient and rather common location for voting. Travis County, Texas (which is home to the state capital of Austin), for instance, had 38 polling locations in schools last year.
All these would have to be relocated if such a ban were to be enacted. Other Republicans introduced bills that go even further, making it harder for college students to vote altogether.
The same lawmaker in Texas who decided to ban polling places at K–12 public schools also attempted to bar them on college campuses, which would automatically force students to travel further to vote even though they might lack the needed transportation and access to any other off-campus polling locations.
These bills are only the tip of the iceberg for Republican legislators.
This past legislative session won’t even be the last time Republican state lawmakers try to push through bills that target the vote-counting process, execute power grabs, or even suppress student voting.
As long as there will be election conspiracy theories swirling through the GOP, we should expect to see other proposals on the same note in different states next year. In fact, this might apply even more now that we’re expecting the 2024 presidential elections.
Even if these fringe bills don’t make it across the finish line this time, their fate is still undecided. Today’s fringe bill might be tomorrow’s Republican consensus.
There’s so much to know about the two political forces that are currently clashing for power in our country. That’s why we recommend you watch this series.
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