New Voting Laws Could Leave More than 5 Million Americans Away from the Polls Next Year

Republican state legislators and governors in a number of states have passed various laws this year that stand to have a large impact on voters in 2012. According to a study released this past Sunday by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, some of these recently passed laws will make it overwhelmingly difficult for voters, mostly Democrat ones, to cast ballots come election time in 2012.

Some of the new laws passed will: require photo identification for voting, eliminate same day voter registration in several states, require proof of citizenship to register to vote, change the requirements for voter registration drives and reduce early voting days. The report notes that these laws “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.”

While Republicans claim the new laws are intended to prevent voter fraud, most Democrats aren’t buying it. They say it is a tool to dissuade the younger generations, minorities and low-income voters who vote in large part for the Democratic Party.  The Brennan Center’s report highlights the fact that minority groups in the U.S. will for the most part be negatively impacted. For example, according to the Brennan Center, African-Americans and Hispanics are the most likely to register to vote during voter registration drives in Florida. Those that have now been outlawed in that state the Sunday before Election Day (a well known day on which numerous African-American churches plan organized drives for the members of their congregation). Likewise, the new laws passed in Maine will no longer allow people to register to vote on Election Day, a practice that in 2008 was credited with enrolling nearly 60,000 new voters. In Texas, student identification cards will not be an acceptable form of photo identification now required. According to calculations performed by the Brennan Center, 11 percent of potential voters currently do not possess state-issued photo identification. Thus, this new relevant law alone would affect 3.2 million voters in those states where the change is scheduled to take effect before the 2012 elections.

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