Judges last week stopped a Texas voter-ID law that would have required voters to present a photo identification at the polls—but not just any photo identification—college student IDs would not have been accepted, but concealed weapons permits would have sufficed. While this would have been the most draconian regulation limiting access on election day, many other states have passed laws in the past year that could reshape voting patterns.
According to NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, 34 states introduced voter ID laws since the beginning of 2011 and
16 states have passed restrictive voting laws that have the potential to impact the 2012 election (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia). These states account for 214 electoral votes, or nearly 79 percent of the total needed to win the presidency.
Voter registration is also more difficult this time around.
At least 16 states introduced bills to end highly popular Election Day and same-day voter registration, limit voter registration mobilization efforts, and reduce other registration opportunities. Florida, Illinois and Texas passed laws restricting voter registration drives, and Florida and Wisconsin passed laws making it more difficult for people who move to stay registered and vote. Ohio ended its weeklong period of same-day voter registration.
The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Rock the Vote and lots of other protectors of voting rights collaborated on the Election Protection App, a useful digital tool to untangle the growing bureaucratic web between you and the ballot box. Use the app to help verify your voter registration status or help you register, find your polling place as well as whatever new regulations may affect your ability to vote. Use it as an old fashioned organizing tool, suggested Lawyers Committee's Eric Marshall to Mother Jones:
I download it and I check my info, and then there's no reason I can’t then go to my grandmother and get her info," he says, "or go to church and say, 'Hey, do you know your rights on election day? Let's look up your registration status.'
Youth Radio reporters covering the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week asked young delegates why voting matters to them.
In an election cycle when traditionally marginalized voters are bound to hit new roadblocks, tech fixes like the Election Protection App are becoming increasingly valuable.