A man putting a paper ballot into a ballot box on election day.

For state and federal legislators, voting rights legislation is a key priority in 2023. Debates and public focus surrounding voting rights and access have intensified and come into the fore due to contentious national elections and imperfect electoral systems. As the 2024 election approaches, these conflicts will only intensify.

Analyzing Voting Rights Legislation in 2023

Debates around voting rights have always been central to American political discourse. The 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries saw the expansion of the right to vote to religious minorities, people of color and women. However, the statutory right to vote was never the end goal for voting rights advocates. The civil rights movement, particularly the Voting Rights Act of 1965, drove our nation nearer to fair and equal democratic participation.

Policy impacting voting rights is a priority issue for state legislators, intensified by contentious national elections and imperfect systems.

The 2024 elections are quickly approaching. As of July 2023, state legislators have introduced 1,188 bills impacting voting rights. Eighty bills have made it through the legislative process to become law. Understanding this activity, including how and where it is playing out, is key to understanding democracy. We leveraged Plural’s data analyze legislation affecting voting rights and access so far in 2023.

In our analysis, we focused on legislation that expanded or limited access to vote. For example, legislation increasing early vote time is categorized as expanding, while legislation restricting mail-in voting is categorized as restricting. While important to monitor, legislation unrelated to the ability to vote, like bills that regulate ballot-counting devices, were not considered.

Looking Ahead to 2024

Following the 2020 elections, voting rights became a central issue in 2022 campaigns as well as the 2023 legislative sessions. As we approach another contentious national election in 2024, attention on voting policy will continue to grow. Plural is committed to analyzing the trends in this space to help the public understand our democratic processes. 

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