With the Ballots Dead, Democrats Face an Expensive Battle to Overcome GOP Curbs

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Federal voting rights legislation would also have included funding for election administration processes, including automatic voter registration. Without it, election officials say they will be paralyzed in training staff and purchasing necessary equipment, at the risk of disruption. Hundreds of officials from 39 states sent a letter to Mr. Biden on Thursday requesting $5 billion to buy and bolster election infrastructure for the next decade. The letter was organized by a group largely funded by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook.

Despite that need, at least 12 states have passed laws prohibiting non-governmental groups from funding election administration — a far-reaching legislative response to false right-wing suspicions that $350 million had been donated for that purpose by another organization associated with Mr. Zuckerberg. used to increase democratic turnout. (The money mainly covered administrative costs, including security equipment for polling station officials, and was distributed to both Republican and Democratic jurisdictions.)

Some Democrats and civil rights leaders say they fear the failure of Washington Democrats to pass a federal voting law could dampen turnout among black voters — the same voters the party will try to organize in the coming months.

“Voting rights are seen by black voters as a proxy struggle on black issues,” said Mr. Paultre in Florida. “The Democratic Party is to blame.”

In Texas, whose March 1 primary will be the first of the midterms, some of the results of the sweeping new voting law passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last year are already apparent. In densely populated counties such as Harris, Bexar, Williamson and Travis, as many as half of voter requests have been rejected so far because voters failed to meet new requirements, such as providing a driver’s license number or partial Social Security number.

In Harris County — the state’s largest, which includes Houston — about 16 percent of ballot applications have been rejected because of the new rules, a sevenfold increase from 2018, according to Isabel Longoria, a Democrat who is the county’s election administrator. About one in 10 applications did not meet the new identification requirements, she said.

In Travis County, home of Austin, about half of the applications received have been rejected because of the new rules, officials said. “We’re seeing the real effect of the law now, and, ladies and gentlemen, it’s voter suppression,” said Dana DeBeauvoir, a Democrat who as a district secretary oversees the elections there.

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