It’s like 2011 all over again. It was two years ago that, after Republicans claimed big gains in state legislatures across the South and country in the 2010 mid-terms, lawmakers made a national push for changes to voting laws, with one of the most controversial being restrictive bills requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. Now, with the 2012 elections behind them, state GOP leaders have again pledged to make voter photo ID a priority this year. But has the debate — and public sentiment about voter restrictions — changed this time? States leading the push in 2013 include Arkansas, where Republicans won over the state legislature in 2012 and a House panel advanced a voter ID bill this week, and North Carolina, where a Democratic governor’s veto staved off an ID bill in 2012, but newly elected GOP Gov. Pat McCrory has signaled he’ll support a looming measure.
In February, Virginia lawmakers reversed course from a law passed last year that allowed voters to use a utility bill, pay stub, bank statement, government check, or Social Security card as acceptable identification at the polls. A bill passed by the Virginia legislature eliminates those as acceptable forms of voter ID — although it leaves alone student ID cards and concealed gun permits — and now heads to GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell’s desk.
Despite these aggressive moves, there’s evidence that the debate over voter photo ID is different this time around. The media, which at times seemed to be caught flat-footed in the early stages of the voter ID debate, has since done in-depth reports documenting the laws’ disproportionate impact in African-American communities and among young black and Latino voters.
Full Article: New battle over voter ID in the South.