Battleground States Push for Election Changes Before 2024

Key battleground states, including Ohio and Georgia, are moving forward to change election laws before voting in 2024. According to a report by Politico, a push is underway to scrap or change runoffs in Georgia, and Republicans in Ohio are moving toward stricter voter ID laws.

According to the nonprofit Voting Rights Lab, there were at least 100 election-related bills in eight states before this year’s legislative session. A nonpartisan group, Better Ballot Georgia, is lobbying the state legislature to take up the reform. Instant runoffs would allow voters to rank their preferred candidates at the onset rather than returning to the polls. The group has also run digital ad campaigns to press for change.

“We are suffering from election fatigue at a level that I don’t know has ever been experienced,” said a former Republican state lawmaker involved with the effort, Scot Turner. “If we could get our elections over in November at a lesser cost with greater turnout, I think there’s a real message here.”

Republican Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, has yet to voice a preference.

Ohio is the closest to changing its election law with a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. As it stands, voters can present alternative forms of identification, including bank statements and utility bills.

According to Politico, the measure would also limit how many days to request and then return an absentee ballot, in addition to eliminating early in-person voting on the Monday before an election.

The Ohio legislature is Republican-controlled and passed a bill still awaiting action from GOP Governor Mike DeWine, who hasn’t signaled if he would sign or veto the bill.

Dems are also pushing for election law changes

Democrats are also working on making changes to election laws, including in Michigan and Minnesota, where Dems are in control.

“I think the voters really gave us a mandate to continue to be a leader in the democracy business in Minnesota,” said Steve Simon, a top election official. “This isn’t a case where voters didn’t understand what the candidates were about.”

Voters in Michigan have already approved recent state constitutional changes that codified mail voting in 2018 and early voting in 2022. Michigan’s top election official, Jocelyn Benson, said her top priority for the coming year is trying to figure out ways to protect “the people in elections and ensuring that they have all the support and resources they need to continue doing their work in this threatening and challenging environment.”

Republican Pennsylvania state Senator David Argall, who served as chair of the state government committee this year, told Politico that there is increasing bipartisan support for increasing pre-processing time for mail ballots in his state.

GOP legislators included the move in a broader package they passed that may have changed much of the voting process in the state. However, outgoing Democrat Governor Tom Wolf vetoed it in 2021.

“I have supported it in the past, I will support it in the future, but I don’t think you can do just that one thing,” said Argall to Politico about pre-processing. “I think there’s going to be too many other people saying, ‘Plus this, plus this,’ and that’s where it gets complicated.”