A new wave of Republican legislation to reshape the nation’s electoral system is coming in 2022, as the G.O.P. puts forward proposals ranging from a requirement that ballots be hand-counted in New Hampshire to the creation of a law enforcement unit in Florida to investigate allegations of voting fraud.
The Republican drive, motivated in part by a widespread denial of former President Donald J. Trump’s defeat last year, includes both voting restrictions and measures that could sow public confusion or undermine confidence in fair elections, and will significantly raise the stakes of the 2022 midterms.
After passing 33 laws of voting limits in 19 states this year, Republicans in at least five states — Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma and New Hampshire — have filed bills before the next legislative sessions have even started that seek to restrict voting in some way, including by limiting mail voting. In over 20 states, more than 245 similar bills put forward this year could be carried into 2022, according to Voting Rights Lab, a group that works to expand access to the ballot.
In many places, Democrats will be largely powerless to push back at the state level, where they remain overmatched in Republican-controlled legislatures. G.O.P. state lawmakers across the country have enacted wide-ranging cutbacks to voting access this year and have used aggressive gerrymandering to lock in the party’s statehouse power for the next decade.
Both parties are preparing to use the issue of voting to energize their bases. Democratic leaders, especially Stacey Abrams, the newly announced candidate for governor of Georgia and a voting rights champion for her party, promise to put the issue front and center.
But the left remains short of options, leaving many candidates, voters and activists worried about the potential effects in 2022 and beyond, and increasingly frustrated with Democrats’ inability to pass federal voting protections in Washington.
“What we are facing now is a very real and acute case of democratic subversion,” Ms. Abrams said in an interview, adding that the country needed a Senate willing to “protect our democracy regardless of the partisanship of those who would oppose it.”
Democrats and voting rights groups say some of the Republican measures will suppress voting, especially by people of color. They warn that other bills will increase the influence of politicians and other partisans in what had been relatively routine election administration. Some measures, they argue, raise the prospect of elections being thrown into chaos or even overturned.
Republicans say the bills are needed to preserve what they call election integrity, though electoral fraud remains exceedingly rare in American elections.
“This is going to be one of the big political issues for at least the next year,” said Jason Snead, the executive director of the Honest Elections Project, a conservative group that has helped craft voting legislation. He said the group wanted lawmakers to “stop thinking of election-related policies as something …….