‘This Could Make or Break the Election.’ How States Are Battling Over Who Gets to Vote in the 2020 Election (TIME)

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    Voting booths stand empty during voting in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary at Bedford High School in Bedford, New Hampshire, on Tue., Feb. 11, 2020.

    ‘This Could Make or Break the Election.’ How States Are Battling Over Who Gets to Vote in the 2020 Election – By Vera Bergengruen (TIME) / Feb 20 2020

    The winner of the 2020 presidential election will depend not only on who votes but also on who doesn’t. Four years after 77,744 ballots in three states gave the White House to Donald Trump, state lawmakers are battling over voting rules that will determine whether millions of Americans get a chance to cast a ballot in November.

    So far this year, 29 states have introduced at least 188 bills to expand voting rights by making registration and absentee voting easier, and by restoring the vote to former felons. At the same time, legislators in 15 mostly Republican states have introduced at least 35 bills that would make it harder to vote, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice, often by imposing stricter voter-identification requirements.

    Key Electoral College states like Florida and Virginia are among those still grappling with questions about ballot access. With the presidency and control of Congress on the line, “This could make or break the election,” says Paul Smith, vice president of the Campaign Legal Center.

    In 2018, Florida voters approved an amendment to restore the vote to 1.4 million people with felony convictions, a move celebrated by backers as the biggest voting-rights win in recent U.S. history. But more than a year later, its implementation remains mired in partisan legal battles over the Florida supreme court’s ruling that felons have to pay back all fines and fees related to their convictions before being granted the right to vote. While a clause in the law allows those fees to be waived, it is mainly being used in Democratic-leaning counties. And as Florida’s March 17 presidential primary gets closer, local election officials say they still have not received guidance on how to handle ex-felons’ registrations.

    Even so, voting-rights activists in the state say they’re optimistic the recent changes Floridians voted for will make a difference in 2020. “This is the largest expansion of democracy in 50 years,” says Neil Volz, deputy director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, who himself recently regained his voting rights through Amendment 4.

    Continue to article:  https://time.com/5785885/voting-rights-2020-election/

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