-by Ari Berman
October 3, 2011- In a recent article, “The GOP War on Voting,” I examined how GOP officials have passed laws in a dozen states since the 2010 election designed to impede traditionally Democratic voters at every step of the electoral process, which could prevent millions of students, minorities, legal immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots in 2012.
Here’s the summary:
Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states—Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia—cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures—Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin—will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic—including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.
Now, thanks to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, we have the best estimate yet for just how many voters will be impacted: “these new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012,” the report states (emphasis added).
According to the report, “states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012–63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.” It just so happens that of the twelve most competitive swing states in the country, “five [Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada and Ohio] have already cut back on voting rights.”
The Brennan Center notes that “these new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities”—in other words, those most likely to vote against the GOP.