As voters go to the polls on Super Tuesday, many will be casting ballots in states that have passed strict election laws that didn’t exist during the last presidential race. Out of the 13 states holding primaries or caucuses, there are five where voters will face new rules: Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The laws range from asking voters to present photo IDs at the polls to requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Voting experts say that primary voters tend to be of demographics relatively unaffected by such requirements, as they are typically older and wealthier. The primaries also tend to attract more white voters. Still, Super Tuesday could serve as an early test of how the new laws will play out in the general election in November. This presidential race will be the first since a divided Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act and triggered a number of states to pass stiffer requirements for voting.
“We will undoubtedly see some negative effects in the primaries and perhaps an early glimpse into what the bigger problems could look like come November,” said Wendy R. Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
On Tuesday, the new laws could have a bigger effect in the Democratic contests where “voters of color will be disproportionately affected by the new restrictions,” said Ari Berman, author of “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.”
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is counting on minority voters, particularly in the South, to support her as she tries to secure the Democratic nomination. On Tuesday, six of 11 Democratic contests will take place in Southern states with large populations of black voters. Clinton has been raising the issue of voting rights for months, and her campaign’s top lawyer has filed lawsuits against new voting restrictions in several states.