UPDATE: Today, December 7, 2023, the States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward released the final update to our A Democracy Crisis in the Making report ahead of 2024. The report analyzes the nationwide trend of state legislatures considering —and, in some cases, enacting— laws that would increase the risk of election subversion. These laws could contribute to an election outcome that doesn’t reflect the will of voters. Now that states have mostly set the rules of the road for their elections in 2024, the report finds an alarming number of new laws aimed at creating conditions for partisan politicians to declare their preferred results, order new elections, or otherwise cast doubt on the results. In the 2023 legislative cycle, the report finds that state legislators introduced almost 200 bills that would interfere with nonpartisan election administration. Twenty-one of those bills became law in 15 states.

orange background with an image of the capitol and an overlay of the states of Texas, Wisconsin and North Carolina in red

The legislative trends identified in our original April report, A Democracy Crisis in the Making, have recently intensified, with bills around the country passing or advancing. Partisan state legislatures are trying to seize control over election administration, taking it away from trusted local elections officials. We again partnered with States United Democracy Center and Protect Democracy to highlight these recent developments. As of a June 2021 update, at least 216 bills introduced in 41 states that would interfere with election administration. As of a December 2021 update, 262 bills introduced in 41 states that would interfere with election administration — and 32 of these bills have become law across 17 states. As of our May 2022 update, at least 229 bills are being considered in 33 states that would undermine nonpartisan election administration. As of our August 2022 update, 244 bills have been introduced in 33 states, including in Wisconsin, that allow state legislatures to politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections. In our December 2022 update, we acknowledge recent victories for our democracy while explaining why and how the risk of election subversion persists. The 2022 midterm results showed voters across the nation, including in Wisconsin, reaffirming their commitment to democracy and rejecting election denier candidates. But many states still have problematic laws on the books, and anti-democratic political leaders in power. While the defeat of many election denier candidates has decreased the risk of election subversion, the threat is still there. In our June 2023 udpate, we detailed the nationwide trend of state legislatures considering laws that increase the risk of election subversion and its potential impact on election administration in the 2024 election. That report identified 185 bills in 38 states that would make it easier to manipulate an election, with 15 of them becoming law as of May 3, 2023.

The 2020 election is over, but attempts to undermine our democracy are not. Moves to change the rules—and put partisan political actors in charge of their own elections—are on the rise. Election meddling isn’t just happening in Georgia—it’s happening in 36 states across the country, including Wisconsin. This is an election crisis in the making: read our new report with States United Democracy Center and Protect Democracy.

These threats can’t be ignored. State legislatures are moving to politicize, criminalize, and interfere with election administration. Our report, outlining these legislative trends and what they mean, was covered in the New York Times by election law expert Rick Hasen. Read the full report here.

Law Forward report on a democracy crisis in the making