Restrictive voting laws threaten to disenfranchise millions
This year’s wave of voter suppression legislation is nothing short of a war on voting, threatening to disenfranchise millions of eligible voters. These new laws represent a dangerous step backward in the progress made growing voter registration and participation. Urgent action is needed now to protect every Citizen’s right to vote.
Most of the restrictive voting laws have taken the following forms: eliminating election-day registration, restricting third-party voter registration activities, reducing the number of days for early voting and most commonly, requiring photo ID for in-person voting. But the result is always the same: creating unjust obstacles to voting.
So far this year, 34 states have introduced laws requiring voters to produce photo IDs when voting in person; 12 passed. According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, these new laws will make it harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.
Of particular concern to us is the possible disenfranchisement of young people and communities of color. South Carolina, Texas and Tennessee passed strict voter ID laws that expressly exclude photo IDs issued by state universities. Wisconsin also attempted to exclude student IDs. Confronted with public resistance, state legislators cynically sidestepped the issue by passing a law with such onerous requirements that no university in Wisconsin issues IDs that qualify. Excluding the form of ID most likely to be possessed by college students doesn’t make sense and will make it harder for them to vote.
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Mary Moreno is the communications director at Voto Latino. Before joining VL, she worked as a crime reporter for five newspapers and as a press secretary for two DC nonprofits. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she’s a proud Texan who currently lives in DC.