New laws curb voter registration
By Mark McDermott
Voting laws passed by Republican legislatures in a dozen states during the past year have sharply restricted voter-registration drives that typically target young, low-income, African American and Hispanic voters – groups that have backed the Democratic president by wide margins.
Another 16 states are considering bills that would end voter registration on election days, impose a range of limits on groups that register voters, and make it more difficult for people to sign up, according to the Brennan Center for Justice in New York University Law School.
Analysts say that the new laws – many of which include measures requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls – could carve into Obama’s potential support in Florida, Ohio and other politically-divided states likely to be crucial in the November 6 election.
Many if not most of these new laws follow model statutes developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the secretive, corporate-funded organization that gives direction to right-wing state legislators.
Massive registration drives in 2008 helped put millions of people aged 18 to 29 on voting rolls, and that age group – which makes up roughly one quarter of the U.S. electorate – voted 2-to-1 for Obama, helping propel him to victory
Rock the Vote, a nationwide organization that mobilizes young voters, said the new laws would make it more difficult to educate people on how to sign up to vote.
“The types of laws have varied, but state by state they’ve added up to the fact that it’s going to be harder for young people to get registered and vote in this election cycle,” said Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote.
The League of Women Voters and other groups have suspended voter registration in Florida as they challenge the new restrictions in court.