-By Michael D. Shear
April 29, 2012- Field workers for President Obama’s campaign fanned out across the country over the weekend in an effort to confront a barrage of new voter identification laws that strategists say threaten the campaign’s hopes for registering new voters ahead of the November election.
In Wisconsin, where a new state law requires those registering voters to be deputized in whichever of the state’s 1,800 municipalities they are assigned to, the campaign sent a team of trainers armed with instructions for complying with the new regulations.
In Florida, the campaign’s voter registration aides traveled across the state to train volunteers on a new requirement that voter registration signatures be handed in to state officials within 48 hours after they are collected.
And in Ohio, Mr. Obama’s staff members have begun reaching out to let voters know about new laws that discourage precinct workers from telling voters where to go if they show up at the wrong precinct.
Many of the laws in question — including the ones in Florida and Wisconsin — are the subject of legal challenges by Democratic groups who say they are part of a partisan, Republican effort to dampen the turnout of voters, particularly members of minority groups, for Mr. Obama and his party.
But senior aides to Mr. Obama said the campaign was preparing for the laws to be upheld and in force this fall — just in case.
“We have to assume that these laws will be in effect in November,” Jeremy Bird, the field director for the campaign, said in an interview. “We are not allowing laws that are challenging and put in our way to stop us from doing what we need to do.”
Advocates of the new laws, which have been passed in about 30 states since the last presidential election, say they are necessary to prevent voter fraud. They include tougher voter identification requirements and more rules about where and how groups can register new voters.
Mark Cole, a Virginia lawmaker who sponsored a bill requiring voters to show identification, told Virginia Statehouse News that it was “a good ballot integrity measure” that would “increase confidence in the electoral process.”
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, is an advocate of the push by Republican-controlled legislatures to toughen the laws.