Less than three weeks before Election Day, new voter ID requirements, early voting schedules and voter registration rules in more than a dozen states are creating uncertainty that could dampen turnout. In some states, courts are still hashing out new rules. Fourteen states have election laws that are more restrictive than they were during the last presidential election in 2012. Most of them require voters to show a photo ID before casting their ballots. Some of those ID laws have been scaled back or overturned by judges citing racial discrimination, but legal battles have continued in several states because voting rights advocates say state officials haven’t fully complied with court orders. There is confusion stemming from other court cases as well. Kansas’ attempt to require proof of citizenship from voters is still tied up in court. In Ohio, the battle is over people the state purged from the voter rolls because they hadn’t voted in six years.
“One of the greatest impediments to voting is confusion,” said Lloyd Leonard with the League of Women Voters. “In some pretty important states the rules are still changing.”
Courts struck down strict voter ID laws in North Carolina and North Dakota and scaled back laws in Texas and Wisconsin. But even though the cases have been decided, they aren’t quite settled. In Texas, North Carolina and Wisconsin, plaintiffs have returned to court to try to force state officials to follow through on court orders.