National: After a Fraught Election, Questions Over the Impact of a Balky Voting Process | The New York Times
So few Americans cast ballots that a new president was elected by barely a quarter of Americans eligible to vote. Some of those who did vote waited in line for hours. Others were told they needed an ID to vote under a law the courts had nullified months ago — and sometimes, under laws that never existed to begin with. Amid the ruins of the ugliest presidential campaign in modern history, Democrats are bemoaning an election apparatus so balky and politically malleable that throngs of would-be voters either gave up trying to cast ballots or cast ones that were never counted. This was the first presidential election in a half century that was held without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Voting rights advocates spent the year in court battling, with incomplete success, to roll back restrictions on the franchise enacted by Republican legislatures in state after state. Some scholars and election analysts questioned this week whether a better run and less politically influenced voting process might have changed the outcome in some close races and made the presidential contest even closer. The headline example is Wisconsin, where a Republican-backed law requiring voters to produce one of a limited number of acceptable photo IDs was in effect for the first time. Studies show — and some Republicans admit — that such laws disproportionately reduce Democratic turnout because many of the laws require IDs that low-income and immigrant voters, who are often Democrats, frequently lack. In Milwaukee, where turnout dropped 41,000 votes from the 2012 total, the chief elections official said on Friday that declines in voting were greatest in areas where lack of IDs was most common. Donald J. Trump won Wisconsin by about 27,000 votes.