The 2020 presidential election has gone down as among the most divisive in American history. The bitterness of the campaign culminated in the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C., in which supporters of former President Donald Trump, claiming the election was rigged, stormed the Capitol, causing damage and threatening lawmakers.
The episode was one of the darker chapters in the history of the republic and raised concerns about the threat to democracy in America. (The state of democracy in the U.S. has become an international concern. Political risk consulting agency Eurasia Group listed the upcoming U.S. midterm elections as one of the 10 biggest risks to global security in 2022.)
To identify the states where democracy is under siege, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of bills in each state as of December 2021 that would politicize, criminalize, and interfere with election administration from the report, “Democracy Crisis in the Making Report Update: 2021 Year-End Numbers.” The report is a collaboration between nonpartisan groups the States United Democracy Center and Protect Democracy and nonprofit law firm Law Forward. Only the 17 states in which such proposed bills were enacted are listed.
The States United Democracy Center released its first report last April, in the wake of the highly charged 2020 presidential election. The report then identified 148 bills of concern in 36 states. Three of the measures became law in three states. By Dec. 15, 2021, the organization identified at least 262 bills introduced in 41 states that would interfere with election administration – and 32 of these bills became law in 17 states.
Many of the bills identified promote election sabotage, according to the report, and some state legislatures are attempting to undermine independent election administration.
Of the 17 states that passed legislative measures, 14 voted for Trump. Ten of those states gave Trump a double-digit victory. In the three states on the list that elected President Joe Biden, the president won by smaller margins. In Arizona and Georgia Biden won by 0.3% of the vote. Trump had won Arizona and Georgia four years earlier. In Nevada, Biden won by 2.4 points.
In all three of the states that Trump lost, the former president mounted a campaign to challenge the results, including recounts and lawsuits. That campaign ultimately failed but left its marks on the nation’s democratic institutions. (These are the companies bankrolling Congress members who didn’t certify the election.)
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