Voting Issues and Gerrymanders Are Now Key Political Battlegrounds

At the same time, many states have expanded voting access in recent years. Midterm voters in Nevada passed automatic registration for those receiving a driver’s license, and Maryland authorized same-day registration at the polls. In New York, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is calling for an overhaul of the state’s voting laws, considered among the most archaic in the country.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, advocates of restrictions such as voter ID laws say they are needed to prevent fraud, despite multiple studies showing in-person fraud is extremely rare. A federal appeals court that struck down North Carolina’s voter ID law in 2016 said it was drafted to target blacks “with almost surgical precision.”

One of the Republicans defeated at the polls last year, Kris W. Kobach, lost a race for Kansas governor after being rebuked in federal court for insisting without evidence that noncitizen voting was widespread. Mr. Kobach had led the commission to look into President Trump’s baseless claim that millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2016. It disbanded without documenting his claim.

Polls show Americans are increasingly concerned about the structure of elections. Only 51 percent believed that elections are fair and open in a July Ipsos poll. A Pew Research Center survey in October found wide partisan gaps over easing access to voting, with more Democrats than Republicans favoring the ability to register on Election Day, the restoration of felons’ voting rights and the automatic registration of all eligible voters.

The issue has become a galvanizing one for Democratic candidates.

Kamala Harris, the senator from California and a likely Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted last week: “As states across the country are actively making it harder for Americans to vote, my Democratic colleagues are committed to strengthening access to the ballot box. Reinvigorating the Voting Rights Act, expanding early voting, and automatic registration are a place to start.”

In November, voters in Colorado, Missouri, Michigan and Utah approved changes to limit the role of partisanship in drawing congressional and legislative districts. Ohio passed a similar measure in May.

But in Missouri, Gov. Michael L. Parson, a Republican, opposed the popular vote to turn over mapmaking to a “nonpartisan state demographer,” which could increase Democratic representation. The governor called for the measure’s repeal.

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