Five million. That’s the number of eligible voters that could find it harder to cast their ballot in the 2012 elections. It’s also the figure that advocates against state voting law changes repeatedly echoed during a Capitol Hill forum on new state voting laws that several House Democrats, including Representatives John Conyers, Steny Hoyer, Robert Brady, Jerrold Nadler, and Keith Ellison called Monday.
The NAACP, ACLU and League of Women Voters, among other research and advocacy organizations asked lawmakers to pass legislation to protect voters’ rights. They also wanted Congress to pressure the Department of Justice to deny approval to the states that need it for their new laws to take effect. So far, this includes Alabama, South Carolina and Texas, which are among the nine states that need federal approval for any changes to voting laws under the Voting Rights Act.
In 2011, 14 states enacted 21 measures requiring individuals to present photo identification or proof of citizenship to vote, eliminating same-day registration, reducing early voting and increasing regulations for voter registration drives. Critics say it would discourage minority, disabled, and low-income residents from casting their votes.
Civil rights and advocacy organizations are seeking passage of the Voter Access Protection Act (H.R. 3316), the Same Day Voter Registration Act (H.R. 3317), the Voter Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act (H.R. 108), and the Democracy Restoration Act (H.R. 2212).
Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program for the Brennan Center for Justice and author of the Voting Law Changes in 2012 report, which is the first comprehensive look at the proposed and enacted changes to state voting laws that have been sweeping Republican-dominated legislatures this year, warned that another wave of changes is still likely to come since 43 bills restricting how and when people vote are still pending in 23 states. The Brennan Center is a nonpartisan think tank that also carries out legislative and legal advocacy for the preservation of democracy.
Full Article: Advocates Urge Congress to Fight State Voting Changes.