Thousands of voters in Texas, North Carolina and Georgia said they were unable to cast ballots in Tuesday’s midterm elections amid growing efforts by Republicans to stamp out voter fraud. The complaints suggest that a slew of laws passed in recent years by GOP lawmakers and blasted by critics as a modern-day poll tax aimed at suppressing Democratic turnout may have influenced the results in some of the nation’s most contested contents. In states that recently passed election reform laws, voters said they were turned away because they didn’t have photo identification or after they showed up at the wrong precinct. Voters also complained of long lines, faulty voting machines, language hurdles and confusion over voter requirements, according to the nonpartisan coalition Election Protection. In all, the nonprofit fielded 18,000 complaints, a 30 percent increase from 2010, according to the Seattle Post‑Intelligencer. Republicans have led efforts in recent years to require photo identification and reduce or eliminate early voting or same-day voter registration because of alleged incidents of voter fraud. But critics argue that the laws suppress voter turnout of key Democratic demographics, including low-income, black, Hispanic, female and young voters.
Civil rights activists monitored election offices across the country Tuesday for any hint that the laws could be helping the GOP, which expanded its House majority and gained control of the Senate. “This is the first election in 50 years where voters of color will not have the full protection needed to vote,” Deborah Vagins of the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Los Angeles Times.
In Georgia, at least 40,000 people who registered to vote were not included on the state’s voter list and hundreds more were not assigned a polling place. The state’s elections website that allows people to check their voter registration status was also out of service for hours. In Texas, which recently passed the state’s toughest voter identification law, voters said they didn’t know what form of photo ID was acceptable. In Florida, voters complained that some precincts had ran out of ballots. In Mississippi, thousands of voters faced similar challenges under a new voter ID law this year.