A Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Election Administration (May 2022)

May 19, 2022
  • Description

One year ago, we published A Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Election Administration. We warned that state legislatures were considering a range of bills that would increase the risk of election subversion--that is, the risk that the purported outcome of the election does not reflect the choice of the voters. State by state, legislatures had moved to seize power from professional, non-partisan election administrators and to needlessly expose the running of elections to partisan influence and disruption. As we explained in our initial Report, this trend increases the risk of a crisis in which the outcome of an election could be decided contrary to the will of the people.

Since our first Report, this effort by state legislatures has not receded. In fact, it has accelerated. This year alone, lawmakers have introduced scores of new bills that increase the likelihood of election subversion, whether directly or indirectly. In some cases, the potential subversion is quite direct--for example, bills that give the legislature the power to choose a victor contrary to the voters' will. In others, the impact is less direct but still dangerous. Some bills would introduce dysfunction and chaos into the election system and could lead to delay, uncertainty, and confusion, all of which could provide cover for subversion.