Democrats, labor unions and civil rights groups are convinced Republicans are scheming to steal the election from President Barack Obama by suppressing the liberal vote, and they’re girding for battle. Groups on the left are spending more than they have in any previous election to lawyer up, get voters registered early and flood polling locations with trained poll workers and election watchdogs. “We’re not going to be fooled again,” said Michael Podhorzer, political director of the AFL-CIO, which recently launched a new campaign focused on voter protection and registration in battleground states. For the left, he said, “a potentially naive mistake in 2000 was not understanding the implications of election administration and the extent to which Republican election officials can tilt things their way.”
In all, 30 states have laws in place requiring all voters to show identification at the polls in November, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The battlegrounds are everywhere: Pennsylvania voters are now required to show photo identification. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a law to ban in-person voting for the three days before Election Day. Last week, Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott drew a lawsuit from the Obama administration for the state’s controversial attempt to purge the state’s voter rolls — which could result in tens of thousands of voters getting scrubbed from the lists.
Critics insist the laws are aimed at key Democratic constituencies, including low-income voters, students and others, and see a doomsday scenario in which those rules swing the election. But proponents of the laws say the moves aren’t politically motivated and are aimed at preventing voter fraud. “Making sure noncitizens are not voting in our elections is not a partisan issue. It’s the law,” said Lane Wright, a spokesman for the Florida governor. Democrats are “trying to make it a partisan issue by accusing us of devious motives. We’re trying to follow the law and do the right thing here and that’s our motive.”