Nearly half the nation has tighter voting restrictions today than four years ago. Since the 2010 election, 22 states have passed new voting requirements, according to the nonprofit law and policy institute the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which advocates against many of the restrictions. In 15 of those states, this year marks the first major federal election with those new policies in place. Seven states are facing court challenges over their tighter voting laws. The restrictions have a disproportionate impact on the black population, according to a review of census data. While the 22 states are home to 46 percent of the overall population, they represent 57 percent of the nation’s black population. The Hispanic population, however, is underrepresented: just 42 percent live in the states with new voting requirements. The restrictions range from photo ID requirements to narrower windows for early voting.
Most were passed by GOP-led legislatures in states with growing minority turnout, the report finds. In 18 of the 22 states, the restrictions were ushered through GOP-led bodies. The requirements will also have an outsized effect on states with high minority turnout. Seven of the states with new requirements are among the 11 with the highest African American turnout in 2008. Nine of the states with new restrictions are among the 12 with the highest Hispanic turnout.
Proponents of such policies say they boost election integrity and reduce voter fraud. Opponents argue that they discourage turnout. Academic studies have found that voter fraud is incredibly rare and are mixed on the impact such policies have on turnout.