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Republican-backed bills restricting vote advance across U.S., report finds

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 28, 2021. REUTERS/Octavio Jones

May 28 (Reuters) - Fourteen U.S. states have enacted 22 laws this year that make it more difficult for Americans to vote, according to a report released on Friday, as Republican lawmakers pursue tougher voting restrictions in the wake of former President Donald Trump's false claims of election fraud.

The pace of legislation is faster than in 2011, when new Republican majorities in numerous states passed 19 restrictive laws by October of that year, the report from the Brennan Center for Justice said.

"Americans' access to the vote is in unprecedented peril," the report warned.

Democrats and civil rights activists have said the laws are a thinly veiled effort to disenfranchise voters, particularly minorities.

But Trump's fellow Republicans argue the measures passed by such states as Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas are necessary to prevent fraud and ensure public confidence in election integrity.

Many of the laws seek to make it harder to vote by mail, after a surge in mail balloting last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Others restrict early voting, limit drop boxes, eliminate poll locations and give partisan poll watchers more power.

That said, 14 states have also enacted 28 bills that expand voting access, the report found.

Trump, a Republican, has said for months that his loss to President Joe Biden in November's election was due to massive fraud, despite a lack of evidence. Dozens of judges rejected lawsuits asserting voting irregularities, and election officials across the country have said the vote was safe and secure.

There are at least 61 additional restrictive bills that have advanced in some way in 18 state legislatures, the report said. Overall, lawmakers have introduced 389 restrictive bills in 48 states.

Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Howard Goller

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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