In 2011, a new movement to change the way we vote is underway. Unlike past reforms that sought to expand access to voting, this effort aims to restrict voting purely for partisan gain:
The GOP has bet the next election on a legislative movement intended to defeat President Obama and Democrats by changing the rules that govern our elections.
Republicans have introduced laws in at least 40 states that would make voting more difficult for everyone—especially for voters who supported President Obama and other Democrats in 2008.
In just this past year's legislative session, the GOP has led efforts to:
New restrictions create regulatory hurdles and burdens on voter registration drives, such as tight deadlines enforced by fines. It might be hard to believe that Republicans are discouraging voter registration drives, but look at who registers:
Early voting expands opportunities to vote, enabling people who can't get to the polls on Election Day to make their voices heard.
Election Day or Same Day Registration (EDR or SDR) allows eligible citizens to register to vote immediately before casting a ballot on Election Day or during early voting.
These bills mandate that all voters present documentary proof of citizenship (such as a U.S. passport) before they can register, which creates an unnecessary burden—especially for voters who do not possess a birth certificate.
Non-citizen voting is rare and typically unintentional. From October 2002 to September 2005, the federal government prosecuted just 20 people in four states who were ineligible to register or vote under state law because they were not U.S. citizens.
The Pennsylvania Senate pushed a bill to adopt the district method of awarding electoral votes. The chief of staff to the Republican majority leader defended it, saying, "From a strictly partisan point of view, we are going to benefit."
A Nebraska state senator sponsored legislation to adopt the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, which would have given McCain all of the state's electoral votes in 2008.
Photo ID mandates are the most pervasive new restriction on the right to vote.
For more information, read on or download the full report.
Each tactic disproportionately burdens the same voters: youth, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, seniors, and Americans with disabilities.
Photo ID mandates are the most pervasive new restriction on the right to vote. In 2011, Republicans have proposed these laws in more than 30 states, requiring Americans to possess and show unexpired government-issued photo identification as a prerequisite to voting.
Proponents of photo ID laws claim that they are necessary to prevent voter fraud. But in reality, they are costly and unnecessary—and they disenfranchise voters.
Dorothy Cooper is a 96-year-old resident of Chattanooga. She was born before the 19th Amendment was ratified and grew up during the height of Jim Crow. She had never experienced any problems voting—until Tennessee Republicans enacted a photo ID mandate in 2011. In October, she went to her local driver service center, bringing numerous residency and identity documents. But Tennessee refused to issue her a photo ID because she did not have a marriage certificate.
To learn more about what happened to Dorothy Cooper, download the full report.
Almost all of the Republican photo ID mandates make it more difficult for students to vote:
GOP photo identification mandates often exclude veteran's ID cards, making it more difficult for veterans to vote.
In New Hampshire, Republicans sought to prohibit military personnel from registering to vote at their base addresses.
The GOP effort to cut Election Day Registration would severely limit voter turnout among people of color. If implemented nationally, EDR could increase turnout by 12% for Asian Americans, 11% for Latinos, and 7.5% for African Americans.
Take North Carolina. In 2008, although comprising only 21% of total voters in the state, African Americans accounted for 36% of the voters that used Same Day Registration. Efforts in North Carolina to restrict early voting will also make it harder for African Americans, who accounted for 33% of ballots cast during the first stages of early voting.
Watch this video to see how GOP photo ID mandates make it more difficult for senior citizens to cast their vote.