Voter ID, Other Laws Could Disenfranchise 5 Million Americans
More than five million Americans in total could face an uphill battle to the ballot box after states’ efforts to restrict voting rights in the past year, according to the first comprehensive study on such laws.
The Brennan Center for Justice finds [PDF] that at least 19 laws and two executive orders were enacted thus far in the most recent legislative session that restricted voters’ rights by requiring photo ID, making changes to early or absentee voting options, or making the registration process more difficult.
Voter ID laws could disenfranchise 3.2 million voters while proof of citizenship laws could affect another 240,000 citizens. And as many as 2 million Americans voted on days in 2008 that have been eliminated under laws cutting back on non-Election Day voting.
The report paints a troubling picture for the impact of Voter ID and other such laws on upcoming elections. While threatening to disenfranchise millions—particularly youth, students, the elderly, the low-income, the disabled—the laws could also impact the make-up of elected officials nationwide.
States with laws that restrict voting rights will contribute 171 electoral votes during the 2012 presidential election—63 percent of the 270 votes necessary to win the election. And nearly half—five of twelve—“likely battleground states” have enacted such laws.
The report notes support from the American Legislative Exchange Council as one reason Voter ID laws succeed in a number of states. Campus Progress first revealed how ALEC, a group that brings together state legislators and corporations to promote conservative policies, was involved with pushing sample Voter ID legislation to elected officials.
“This year there’s been a significant wave of new laws in states across the country that have the effect of cracking down on voting rights,” Michael Waldman, the executive director of the Brennan Center told the New York Times. “It is the most significant rollback in voting rights in decades.”
Waldman also noted that 5 million votes would have made a significant impact in both the 2000 and 2004 elections.
In addition to the laws examined by the Brennan Center, 42 other bills are still pending in statehouses and 86 others were introduced but failed.
Brian Stewart is the communications manager at Campus Progress.