Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Study: Republicans Restrict Voting With New State Laws

Among President Obama’s winning coalition in 2008 were African Americans and young adults. The Republicans have taken heed and are restricting the voting rights of these constituencies, among others, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice detailing new state voting laws. The Republicans argue that they are guarding against voter fraud, yet there is no proof that such a problem is widespread. Indeed, more citizens will be disenfranchised by these laws than would have ever committed fraud. Other laws the Republicans are passing don't even pretend to be connected to voter fraud:

Since Republicans won control of many statehouses last November, more than a dozen states have passed laws requiring voters to show photo identification at polls, cutting back early voting periods or imposing new restrictions on voter registration drives.

...The center...concluded that [the laws] “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.”

Republicans, who have passed almost all of the new election laws, say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, and question why photo identification should be routinely required at airports but not at polling sites. Democrats counter that the new laws are a solution in search of a problem, since voter fraud is rare. They worry that the laws will discourage, or even block, eligible voters — especially poor voters, young voters and African-American voters, who tend to vote for Democrats.

...Under the Texas law, licenses to carry concealed handguns would be an acceptable form of identification to vote, but not student ID cards.

The Brennan Center estimates that 11 percent of potential voters do not have state-issued photo identification. By that measure, it finds that the new laws would affect 3.2 million voters in the states where the change is scheduled to take effect before the 2012 elections.

...In Florida, a new law imposing restrictions on voter registration drives has led the state’s League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan group that had registered voters for 72 years, to call a moratorium on new registration drives in the state, citing the penalties that groups can face under the law.

Image: Tom Toles, Washington Post

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