People walk across the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bride during the annual D.C. Peace Walk in January.

Restrictive voting laws passed in the wake of the 2020 election were more prevalent in Republican-controlled states with racially diverse populations, according to a new analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice. 

The Brennan Center report released Wednesday indicates restrictive voter rights and voting access legislation, introduced in all but one state since 2020, is not purely a partisan issue, despite deepening party line battles around elections in the U.S.

“It may be somewhat of a surprise to folks that this isn’t just a story about party,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights division. “[Voting rights have] become an incredibly polarized, political issue, and I think people are used to thinking about it as a partisan issue. But this study shows it’s not just party that is playing a role here. It’s about race as well.”

Researchers analyzed “restrictive” voting provisions introduced in state legislatures in 2021, political and demographic make-up of legislative districts and the 2020 Cooperative Election Study, an online national study conducted before and after major U.S. elections.

‘Racial resentment’

The study examines “racial resentment,” a political science term developed in the 1980s to measure the role race plays in public opinion. 

Protesters gather at the base of the Main Bridge in Daytona Beach in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

The Brennan Center report found at the legislative district level, “representatives from the whitest districts in the most racially diverse states were the most likely to sponsor anti-voter bills.” At the state level, the intersection of race and partisanship was the strongest indicator of restrictive voting bills, as less diverse states were “unlikely” to introduce or pass restrictive legislation regardless of political party. 

“We are not seeing these bills introduced and passed everywhere that Republicans have control; rather, they are most prevalent in states where they have control and where there are significant non-white populations,” the Brennan Center report states.

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