States Enact Troubling New Voter Restrictions

October 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

This blog exists to publish perspectives and voices about living at or near the poverty line and to discuss policies and projects that impact those lives. Being heard by media is still sadly uncommon but being heard in government is a fundamental right for all Americans and a critical factor in creating positive changes.  However, some states changed their voting registration laws after the election in 2010 making that right harder to attain. Many of these laws will impact your ability to vote for US President in 2012.

Restrictions among the 14 states enacting change cover broad ranges of election law according to a new Brennen Center for Justice study, “Voting Law Changes in 2012.”  The new laws include strict new requirements to register to vote and intimidating regulations for groups and individuals who conduct voter registration drives. They scale back early voting and eliminate Sunday voting, eliminate same day voting registration, disenfranchise people who have served criminal sentences, and make it harder to stay registered if a voter changes address.

If you live in: Florida, Georgia, Ohio (Ohio election law changes on hold temporarily), Tennessee or West Virginia check new changes to your ability to vote absentee or to vote early. If you’re in: Ohio (contested, see link above), North Carolina, or Florida your right to vote on Sunday has been eliminated or changed. If you live in: Florida, Maine, Ohio (contested), or Texas (in review by Department of Justice) you won’t be as able to register through a registration drive because of new restrictions on those organizations and individuals.  Texas (in review, see link above), for instance, is requiring people who register voters to be deputized now. Learn how to register so you can be ready in 2012!

If you live in: Alabama, Kansas, or Tennessee you need proof of citizenship now to get a voter card. The Brennen Center estimates 7% of the voting public doesn’t currently have easy access to proof of citizenship.

In Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (law in review) and Wisconsin you need photo ID. Check your state guidelines for exact ID’s accepted and if there are affidavits or provisional ballots you can file. Tennessee, for instance, excludes student photo ID. Only Alabama (law in effect in 2013) and Wisconsin recognize tribal ID. Kansas, Texas, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Alabama accept handgun licenses. Photo ID generally means: non-expired license, state ID card, US passport, or US Military ID.

Prior to 2006 you didn’t need ID to vote in any state. Now you’ll be asked for some form of ID in the states above as well as: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio (contested), Oklahoma and Washington. Many of the ID’s required are state or governmental photo ID. You need to acquire those ID’s well in advance of the Presidential election.

These laws impact students, people with low incomes, minorities, seniors and disabled individuals most. They’ve been sponsored and aggressively pursued by the Republican party and passed by Republican majorities. The intentional screening out of student ID in some states will impact the voting rights of young people. Consequence? Consider this, in Election 2008 young voters turned out historic numbers. 66% voted for Obama.The elimination of Sunday voting has absolutely no rationale and it impacts African American and Hispanic voters. Why? According to the Brennen report more than 50% of the Florida vote on the Sunday before the election was cast by African Americans and Hispanics. Florida has now eliminated that day for voting. Nationally 96% of the Black vote went to Obama.

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