When state legislatures across the U.S. were passing voting laws, I used data collected by the Brennan Center for Justice to create interactive choropleth maps and charts to show which states in the country have passed restrictive and expansive laws, and explain how restricting ballot access disproportionately impacts people of color.
The impact of the project was that it highlighted the restrictions on citizens’ right to vote by mainly Republican-controlled state legislatures. The move to restrict ballot access — which voting rights advocates experts argued was motivated by false allegations perpetuated by former President Trump about voter fraud in the 2020 election — disproportionately impacted people of color. Ensuring that every American can vote is an important issue — and one that has the ability to control the election outcome. For instance, Democrats swung Arizona and Georgia by less than 13,000 votes in the 2020 presidential election.
What was the hardest part of this project?
The hardest part of the project was to delve into why states across the country were passing these laws, and why they were passing them at the time, in what voting rights advocates called an “aggressive wave of voting laws.” The answer — which my reporting showed — was that this “wave” was motivated by false allegations perpetuated by former President Trump about voter fraud in the 2020 election. These restrictive laws disproportionately impact Black and Latino people, who overwhelmingly used mail-in voting and drop boxes.
What can others learn from this project?
Other journalists can learn from this project that there is not always a “both sides” argument, especially for topics that concern the health of our democracy. While some states passed expansive laws in 2021, this project highlighted Brennan Center research that showed states where voting is relatively more accessible were enacting laws to further strengthen voting access. This is deepening a national divide such that people’s right to vote is increasingly depending on where they live.